Navajo Culture Meets Earth-Command Star-Ship “Donald Trump”
This SciFi story (with gender fluid leanings) has a political undertow that may raise your hackles and will certainly mix your metaphors.
Star Commander Alaric, Sniper: “Chris Kyle Class”
In the year ACC 820, Star Commander Alaric and his crew returned to Mother Earth from their first half-millennium duty tour of nearby star systems. As the crew were gradually reanimated, their excited talk centered on how much or how little Earth might have changed in their absence.
Way back in ACC 97, Earth had been deemed eternally free — or as the Libertarian framers of the new Earth-wide Constitution had put it: “a planet free forever to evolve in liberty: Universal Code under Unified Command”.
Still, none of the star troopers were mentally prepared for the absolute radio cacophony they encountered as they reached hailing distance of the home planet. After several weeks of close observation from Space Station “Guns Ablaze,” it became clear that virtually nothing remained of the “UC under UC” system. Thousands of entities — local and regional, political and cultural — had taken its place, “letting a hundred flowers blossom” as the ancient Mao ZeDong might have put it.
This situation of indisputable anarchy greatly astonished Alaric and the rest of the crew, distressed to discover that somehow ‘mobocracy’ had overwhelmed the hard-fought-for UC law of the planet. Thankfully, the EUC Star Ship ‘Donald Trump’ was well equipped to deal with this unanticipated enemy of the EUC (Earth Unified Command).
Once the enemy was identified, their calm mission would be clear: kill and kill again. But, each of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cultural entities had its own distinct dynamic. How could the gloriously skilled and profoundly patriotic snipers know whom to kill? Discovering the appropriate killees might take years for each and every one of the multifarious entities.
EUC Star Ship Command was not deterred. They would study the entities one at a time for at least 12 hours each in order to determine whom the Earth Snipers must kill in each separate jurisdiction.
But before addressing the gigantic military responsibility which bespoke his high standing and his unrelenting loyalty towards Earth Unified Command, Alaric knew well how essential it would be to initiate the final stages of the crew’s reanimation that had begun as soon as the great Star Ship neared Earth. Now all that was left was a month or two of the nightly Carnal Reanimation Routines.
From the very earliest development of the Space/Time Slumber and Reanimation methodologies, it became clear to researchers that the human sex drive would be one of the least complex and, in truth, most rewarding of the central techniques to be developed. The great bio-technician, Lothar Standaloni, only partly in jest, called the regimen “Turnemloose.”
Alaric knew from personal experience the hyper resurgence of the sexual impulse after Space/Time Slumber. And he knew that it affected humans right across the gender spectrum from cis to trans, from male to female, from bisexual to asexual. In short, all of the gay, queer and straight directions on the sexual compass would soon become a force to be reckoned with on the Star Ship Trump.
A curious side-effect well known to all reanimators was that pre-slumber sexual orientations were not always honored with the renewed onset of sexual activity, leading some theoreticians to assert that bi-, or omni-, sexuality was the natural state of the human condition, in the absence of strong social mediation from birth, reinforcing certain moral constraints.
Alaric, himself, identified as a straight male and had rarely been tempted to depart from his original gender alignments and sexual proclivities. Yes, the notion of sleeping with another man intrigued him, but remained a velleity, an inclination not strong enough to lead to action. Not strong enough, that is, until the current reanimation, when he fell into the arms of the ship’s most popular chef, Ben.
Alaric admitted to himself that no female had ever physically satisfied him more than his current partner (Ben) in the nightly carnal routines; nevertheless he was also aware that his reanimated eye had begun to roam more and more often in the female direction. In any case, his magnified sexual urge would continue for weeks or possibly months more, yet the need to act to rescue the Unified Command was already upon him. Deep in thought, Alaric looked down at the map on the table, his hand outlining the land area identified by Star Ship Command as their first target: Kayenta Entity, arid lands once known as Arizona and New Mexico.
“Ready the troops,” he texted. “We depart for Kayenta Entity at 6am”
Kayenta Entity — Re-emergent Navajo Culture.
Next morning, Alaric stood atop the great amphitheater of Canyon de Chelly, near the so-called Spider Rock. He struggled to take his eyes from the loathsome creature crouched head downward in its web at the base of the Rock. The huge spider’s body was the size of the largest dinosaurs of eld, larger even than the Kaobab 2 spiders, where genetic experimentation guidelines had been so relaxed. He could see how a primitive people might be held in evil thrall by such an enormous and frightening being, but Ship Command was determined that the Navajo, like all of earth’s peoples, would soon again live free. In the beloved Trump’s own words from the distant past, “America will be made great again.”
Alaric’s eyes — finally released from the hideously mesmerising, 8 legged shape — came to rest on the utterly beautiful, utterly motionless, divinely inscrutable Navajo face before him: Haseya, leader of her people.
“Haseya, we are here to protect you and your culture. We have the power to completely exterminate this 8 legged monster that has taken over your lands and that you have been so cruelly forced to worship and obey.”
With those compassionate, yet masterful, words, Alaric, accompanied by the entire Earth Sniper contingent — all with weapons at the ready — burst into song in the staccato rhythms of the Chris Kyle Anthem.
To Haseya’s sophisticated ear it sounded, at least at first, as if the men and women of a thousand-member Soviet Army Chorus were belting out Polyushko-polye (По́люшко-по́ле). Yet, on second thought, she reflected it was musically far richer than that old Russian classic Oh Fields, My Fields, and much more like a Bach choral cantata sung in seven part harmony in which similar lines move with rhythmic and melodic independence to form an even texture, giving distinct harmonic functions to the soprano, bass and five inner voices, which also provide rhythmic contrast.
Haseya listened respectfully to the very end of the performance.
Chris Kyle Anthem
(Written in the prophet Kyle’s own exact words)
People ask me a lot, did it bother you killing?
Did it bother you killing?
Did it bother you killing?
I tell them, “No.” and I mean it.
“No.” and I mean it.
“No.” and I mean it.
You kill your enemy, you see it’s okay.
You do it again. And again. You do it again. And again. You do it again. And again.
I loved what I did, what I did, I’d be back in a heartbeat.
I loved what I did. I still do. I still do.
It was fun! It was fun!
I’m not lying to say: It was fun.
It was fun! It was fun!
I’m not lying to say: It was fun.
HASEYA and ALARIC — An Interlude
At the end of the Anthem, it became apparent to Haseya that these invaders from the stars were about to use their guns on Spider Old Woman and perhaps many others in the village of Chi’ini’le. She could see in his eyes that Alaric felt certain he was doing a good thing, indeed the only right thing. She could see also that he believed fully that he had secured her permission. Would it bother him killing? No. Would he do it again? And again? Would it be fun for him? Yes.
Fully aware that this was the moment in which she must act, perhaps the only possible moment, Haseya placed her hand on Alaric’s shoulder.
“Commander,” she said softly, “Before you do this thing, before you fire the guns, I wonder if I might speak with you in your private quarters. I would ask you to put off your plans for just 24 hours”
Alaric was astonished. He had entertained little doubt that she would approve his proposed action against the arachnidian tyrant, but why would she ask for the delay? Could it be that she too longed for that moment of intimacy that he had dreamed of from the instant he first laid eyes on the handsome young leader of her people?
Still in the delicious throes of his own reanimation urges, he assumed there could only be one answer to this question. She must be just as taken with him as he was crazed with lust for her! It must be that she could not wait even one more day to satisfy their mutually acknowledged need for coital satisfaction.
“Yes, of course,” he replied, “my officers will show you the way to my rooms at seven pm.”
A History Lesson with Philosophical Overtones
Historically, philosophically, culturally, and, one might almost say, astronomically, aeons apart Haseya and Alaric may have been, but the Navajo woman read the Star Commander well. It was clear that somehow in his travels Alaric had missed the full impacts of the ‘Me-Too’ and the ‘Queer Awakening’ movements and the complexities that Earth’s People had taken so long to work through.
Within ten minutes of entering the Commander’s inner sanctum at 7 pm, Haseya managed to take charge of the encounter. Much to Alaric’s dismay, she immediately embarked on a long series of emergence stories: how in the creation account, Changing Woman gave sheep to the Diné, and Spider Woman taught them how to weave on a loom for trade and the prosperity of the People.
She continued explaining the disaster of the European invasion more than a millenium earlier, focusing on the disruption of the long-standing balance among the Navajo’s five traditional gender roles. She herself identified as nádleehé, revered for their ability to embody both the male and female gender roles. She told how the nádleehé were condemned by primitive Evangelical Christian missionaries and further told how these religious fanatics caused great damage to her people that lasted for hundreds of years.
Alaric fumed to realize how badly he had miscalculated this infuriating woman. She plainly had no intention of supporting his military plans. A full day lost!
Even on the sexual front he had misread her intentions. Whatever may be said about that, by now every vestige of his own sexual attraction towards her had vanished. How dare she lecture him on the variants of sexual behavior! Considering his current relationship with Ben, he could probably claim to have Nádleehé leanings himself.
After nearly two hours of what seemed an unrelenting harangue from her, Alaric ushered Haseya unceremoniously out of his rooms. He stared at her coldly as she walked swiftly, and he had to admit, regally, out the door of the compound.
“See this woman to her hogan at once, and ready the troops as planned to obliterate that infernal arachnid.”
HASEYA — Still Re-emergent
A few weeks after her private conversation with Alaric, Haseya stood alone on a cliff top looking down into the great canyon. She was thinking about when the invading troopers had stood face-to-face with Great Grandmother Spider at the Rock.
Haseya felt enormous compassion for the mad man Alaric, and indeed she had been just a little physically attracted to him. She had watched sadly as his raythonic beam burst the Great Spider into a million pieces, while also bursting the spider’s egg bag causing untold numbers of small spiders to descend onto the Star Troopers, each trooper receiving a single bite on the back of the neck. The poison in the bite brought not death but forgetfulness and a kind of horror of violence. This knowledge caused Haseya to smile grimly and to wonder vaguely if she might ever run into Alaric once again.
Later that day Haseya met the new Spider Old Woman, and proudly led the noble creature to her new home at the base of Spider Rock . . . at the end of the rainbow.
Postscript: This short story is intended as an imaginative response to the film “American Sniper,” which became the highest-grossing war film in American history. For an online essay based on the Chris Kyle story, check here. See also here and here.
Note: This story is set in the distant and unknowable future and is not intended as a retelling or an extension of the sacred stories of the Diné or any other Native American Tribe. The author wishes to express his utmost respect for those traditional stories which should only be told by those who speak with tribal authority.
“[Grandmother Spider] is creator of the world in several Native American religions. Although accounts vary, according to mythology she was responsible for the stars in the sky; she took a web she had spun, laced it with dew, threw it into the sky and the dew became the stars. Navajo mythology tells of Spider Woman or Spider Old-Woman (Na’ashjéii Asdzáá). According to the Zuni, string games were given to them by Grandmother Spider. And was fire-bringer for Choctaw peoples. Traditional Navajo/Diné limit the telling of stories involving Spider Old Woman to the winter months, known as “the season when Thunder sleeps”, when it is safe to discuss certain dangerous spirits, such as Spider Woman and Northern Thunder (whence the season takes its name), and esoteric topics, such as the Emergence narrative.” (Wikipedia)
If you would like to read more about Diné culture, here is a very short Medium piece on Navajo spirituality. I am certainly not Navajo myself; however I did teach for 15 years at the Institute of American Indian Arts, in Santa Fe NM, where I learned great respect for their life-ways and philosophy.
Jacobs, Sue-Ellen, Wesley Thomas, and Sabine Lang. “Navajo Cultural Constructions of Gender and Sexuality.” In Two-spirit People: Native American Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Spirituality, 156–73. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997.
Heidi J. Todacheene, (Navajo) SHE SAVES US FROM MONSTERS: THE NAVAJO CREATION STORY AND MODERN TRIBAL JUSTICE
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This piece is a response to the LGBTQ Fiction challenge of Prism and Pen. This week’s theme is “At the End of the Rainbow.”