It’s May 10th and for the first time in over a decade I’m gearing up for a long video shoot – a documentary.
Unlike wine, muscles and joints rarely improve with age. Last summer, this old dude hit the half-century mark. At the time, I didn’t expect such a prolonged shoot would be in my future. As a cancer patient, I’m grateful to have a future. And I’m grateful to be working on this project.
The subject of this documentary is Edison Eskeets. Edison is the trader at Hubbell Trading Post; he’s also a Navajo. To acknowledge the Navajo people who endured The Long Walk 150 years ago, Edison will be running from Spider Rock, AZ to Santa Fe, NM.
That’s 330 miles. And he’s going to do it in 15 days. Yep, he’ll be running a marathon a day (or close to it) for 15 days. He sets out from Spider Rock on May 18 and will arrive in Santa Fe on June 1 where there will be a ceremony in the Santa Fe Plaza.
I have no complaints about my side of this (shooting video and taking pictures), as I’ll be using an SUV to get around (and occasionally a bicycle) whereas Edison will be on foot the entire time.
To read more about Edison, here’s a blog dedicated to The Message | The Run on the Hubbell Trading Post website.
Edison has also asked that donations for The Run be made to Western National Parks Association’s GoFundMe page for this event.
If you can, please donate, and at the very least, share the info on your social media.
A big part of the reason I’ll be filming this project is that Edison and I both work for Western National Parks Association (WNPA). WNPA is a nonprofit education partner of the National Park Service, and it serves 71 partner parks, including Hubbell Trading Post (Hubbell’s). Edison works at Hubbell’s in NE Arizona, while I work at WNPA’s home office in Tucson, AZ.
If you’ve never been to NE Arizona, you should go. Not only is it home to Hubbell’s, but also Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Navajo National Monument, and you can easily make it to Mesa Verde National Park. Do yourself a favor and put them all on your todo list!
Canyon del Muerto at Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Hubbell’s, Canyon de Chelly, and Navajo National Monument are all on the Navajo Nation. When you visit Canyon de Chelly, be sure to sign up for a canyon Jeep tour. You’ll need to hire a Navajo guide/driver, and you can arrange for one at the hotels in nearby Chinle, AZ.
My wife and I only had time for a half-day tour, which winds its way up the Canyon del Muerto, which is an offshoot of Canyon de Chelly. Canyon del Muerto was the location of some horrific actions by Colonel Kit Carson and the US Army in 1863-4 that led to the Navajo being rounded up and forced to march over 300 miles to captivity in New Mexico. Thousands died. On June 1, 1868, the Navajo release was negotiated, and the Navajo who survived those years in captivity began The Long Walk home.
Those are the people Edison is running to acknowledge. His plan is to arrive in Santa Fe 150 years to the day after the Navajo were allowed to return home. This is another dark chapter in America’s history books. I don’t recall hearing about it in school (no surprise), but it’s important to remember so as not to forget. Hubbell’s was established 142 years ago, in part to help restore trade for the Navajo, and they became known for the beautiful Navajo rugs and jewelry.
While we’ve been talking about this for several months, I just received the greenlight to film a few weeks ago.
Getting good pictures and video of Edison running shouldn’t be difficult. But what I really want to do is capture the direction of his running. I want the audience to understand Edison’s route directionally and geographically so they understand where he’s running from and to.
Yet, his route is not a straight line, nor is it simply west from Spider Rock to Santa Fe. It’s sort of a smile with a jagged lip on the left side. Take a look:
As I am prepping and making travel plans and testing equipment and assembling crowdfunding videos, I’m also thinking of how best to capture this visually. More on that tomorrow…
Photo of White House Ruins and Canyon del Muerto by author.