I have a great affinity and affection for most things Native American, which is why I was pleased to have a chance to visit a Nevada museum dedicated to the "Lost City" of the Anasazi Indians recently.
I learned a great deal during my visit.
For example, based on the amount of pottery fragments from different tribes and periods on display, I learned this:
Ancient people were clumsy.
How else could you explain all the broken dishes and pots?
There were a few "replicas" of those early pots which were beautiful, but most of the genuine artifacts were in pieces or had been glued together to form a single pot with a missing part or two.
As a result of my discovery, I have decided that I will never again throw away a broken glass or chipped dish. I'm simply going to pack up the shards in something that will last a few thousand years, like a McDonalds styrofoam Big Breakfast container, and write my family name and year of breakage on the package. (It should save the archaeologists of the 33rd century a few bucks in carbon dating material). I'll probably have to include an extended explanation of what a "Walmart" is, since that seems to be the source of most 21st century eating utensils.
Another fact I discerned from my visit:
Multi-level marketing was alive and well back when the wooly mammoth was still roaming the plains.
I base this statement on the sheer volume of Native American baskets filling the shelves of the museum. They had dozens of baskets of every shape and size, and for a variety of purposes.
When was the last time you saw that many bowls and containers in one place?
That's right, a Tupperware party.
Judging by the number of baskets shown, I believe the continent must have been lousy with Five-Star Directors going teepee to teepee selling TupperGrass baskets long before Christopher Columbus and his collection of copper-bottom cookware salesmen showed up and ruined everything.
As always, I enjoyed reading the works of fiction attached to otherwise unrecognizable artifacts throughout the museum. As a fiction writer myself, I get a charge out of reading the products of degreed and well-fertilized imaginations on the little cards and plaques around an exhibit. For example, there was a pile of dried and hardened mud in one of the display cases that looked just like the millions of similarly dried and hardened mud piles to be found in this corner of the Mohave Desert. Beneath the pile was a card which claimed that the pile was actually petrified "poop" from an ancient and long-extinct form of sea sloth.
I'm sure the fiction writer/scientist who made that claim performed a whole litany of tests to confirm that diagnosis. After all, scientists are never wrong, except when it comes to that whole "Pluto is a planet" - "Is not!" - "Is too!" "Yo MAMA is a planet" "Yeah, well your pocket protector has lice" debate.
Ditto for a mashed up collection of desiccated weeds that another fiction writer claimed was an ancient Native American sandal. I knew the scientist was lying because there was no eyelet for the Payless BOGO tag, not to mention the fact that my back yard in Utah was once filled with such "sandals" until I got my lawn mower fixed.
Of course, not all of the exhibits were inside the building.
Behind the museum was a display of rectangular buildings called "pueblos." For those who don't know, "pueblo" is Native American for "mobile home with missing wheels." And just as you'll find in any modern trailer park, you can tell the status of a particular ancient resident based on whether his "pueblo" is a single or a double-wide.
As my visit ended, I did the unthinkable: I stole an important "artifact" from the gravel driveway in front of the museum. I showed the rock to my wife, who was duly unimpressed.
That is, until I explained that the item was actually one of the earliest examples of an Anasazi arrowhead created by "Cross-Eyed Larry." According to ancient legend, Cross-Eyed Larry was the worst arrowhead maker in the long history of Native America.
He became known far and wide in Native American lore because his work was sought by members of the Vygytyrian tribe. The arrowheads were so bad that, if a brave nocked and fired an arrow fitted with one of these stone ends, it was certain to miss its mark by a good 10-15 paces. Vyjytyrian chieftains, who were previously considered cowardly throughout history and ridiculed at ancient casino powwows for their refusal to hunt live animals, were able to save face in the late 14th century by shooting and missing with one of Cross-Eyed Larry's terribly crafted products.
And now you know the genesis of the word "vegetarian," which as everybody today knows is Native American for "bad hunter."
Former award-winning editor and columnist Morris Workman is the author of the Sunbury Press bestseller "Howl of a Thousand Winds," and continues to write weekly articles and editorials at www.MorrisWorkman.com. His weekly humor column "Workman Chronicle" appears every Wednesday at www.MesquiteCitizen.com.