My name is Delores Wilson-Aguirre and my clans are Biih bitoodnii nisli, doo Tsi’naajinii ba’shish chiin, Kiyaa’áanii da’shi chei doo Tl’’z’ lán’ shi nali. I currently live in Tuba City, and grew up above the confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado rivers at the Grand Canyon’s east rim. I am the youngest of nine siblings.
This is a story about my brother, Clyde Wilson, who was drafted by the U.S. Marines and served in Vietnam in 1968.
I hardly remember Clyde joining the military or leaving for Vietnam. I guess my late mother did not want me to know how long my brother would serve, and she never told me.
I recall seeing her wipe her tears, walking to bidaa to say her prayers for the safe return of Claa (Clyde’s Navajo name). Sometimes I made the journey with my mom and stood beside her as she repeated the prayers for her son’s safe return – “Hozho’go sh’eh awee’ ni’doo daal”.
I don’t remember my exact age but one day I remember when my brother returned from Vietnam. My mother and grandmother quickly prepared a Navajo ceremony for my brother’s return. It was only then I remember sitting beneath dark skies, listening to Clyde, who told us about his experience in Vietnam.
This was the last time I heard my brother talk about Vietnam until recently. He mentioned how he was told he fought for America, which included Navajo land, especially biidaa, where our mom said her prayers.
My brother is frustrated because he and his extended relatives are at the whim of a Navajo Council vote, which will consider the Grand Canyon Escalade bill. The Navajo prayers for his safety, emotional wellbeing and protection from bad things are sealed in the canyon.
I feel for my brother. He sacrificed his young years to a war, which he only understood much later as an adult. I feel a part of his journey to war was so that everyone can appreciate the land all around, especially the canyon.
The Vietnam War is a memory. I know my brother has stories to tell but holds them deep. Perhaps safety is the reason why Clyde moved to Tsah Tah, to build a home near the canyon, where my mother said Hozho prayers for him. The prayers we witnessed for his return to a state of balance, to walk in beauty, within the universe or “Hozho” in the Navajo language, are part of the canyon.
For my brother, a true former Navajo warrior, I respectfully ask the Navajo Nation Council to vote no on the Escalade bill.
Tuba City, Ariz.