Art Begay (Buckinghorse)
Arthur Hale Begay was one of my dearest, certainly the most trusted of friends. We came to be brothers naturally, with the love only brothers could express; even the very occasional flaring tempers with each other would always resolve towards brotherly expressions of alliance and devotion.
Creative... Art was a master silversmith of the old Dine’ traditions. In his studio, he created beauty, and people always wanted it. We collaborated extensively on jewelry design, trading ideas... a constant exchange, it was always a mutual joy to work with this man. I did his website, and designed his Buckinghorse logo (a family identity), which both he and his nephew Truman wore proudly as tattoos. My beloved wears and owns numerous creations of Buckinghorse Studio. He was going to create another ring for me, on Indian Time of course, and I was looking forward to that...
He called me about two days prior to last night (Wednesday the 19th)... told me he thinks about me often, and was my brother. This might appear to be foreshadowing considering what would occur, but again, it was natural for us, even necessary, to maintain the bond this way...
I saw Art last, just last night. He had been drinking some, but beyond this, he was in rare form: joking, mischievous, lighter-hearted than he’d been in some time, considering the painful estrangement from his German-American wife... his three children were the entire world to him, and he was as well, to them.
We were over at Rob’s place, several men sitting in the kitchen shooting the breeze and joking... Rob has a special bond with the Begays: he traveled to Pinon to Art’s family place on the reservation to erect drywall, build cabinets and wire the new home next to their hogan. Moreover, Rob’s daughter Kenna moved there, taken in by the Begays and has graduated with high marks and even higher aspirations. The change of perspective from the South to the western deserts being the best medicine for her hopes, as well as her Apache heritage. I recently completed a nice portrait of her for Robert...
I left about a half hour before Art chose to go home. Robert saw his increasing inebriation inviting some real trouble, and tried his best to get him to stay. But his ‘got to go home’ quickly became something far more...
Several blocks down the road last night, for whatever reason, Art failed to negotiate a small shift in street layout at an intersection in town, not stopping, driving hard into a stone embankment. And, he was gone.
Besides losing a dear native brother so quickly, further sorrows surround him this day: his rich father-in-law waving his checkbook around at the funeral home, saying he’d ‘get it done’. In other words, have a funeral & burial, here and now. It had been apparent for some time, but now here it was in action - a complete disregard of an essential of Art’s culture, to be interred in his homeland, in Arizona.
His family, the women, gathered tonight in Pinon. We expect someone among them to come soon and contend directly with this apparent encroachment to his spirit, whether the wife’s family understands this tradition or really even cares... we pray here that there are sovereignty laws that will protect him from a possible cruel and wrong dismissal of his spirit and his people’s traditions and need to have him home.
I spent several hours with Rob tonight, then left to bid goodnight to Kim my beloved, who took off an entire month with help from her own tribe, and read to me the entire time while I was comatose two months about this time of year in’07. She asked me to show her (the crash site)... we drove to it, got out and walked up to it, the corner’s stones now ripped from the ground. She placed four roses taken from her garden. It was almost exactly 24 hours from when he left us. About midnight.
Then, we both looked down on the road there and noticed something lying flat. In disbelief, I opened it up and saw the photo. It was one of Art’s daughters. It was Art’s own wallet. Untouched. All his cards there. Incredible.
I took Kim home then, and directly drove back to Rob’s, the only real connection, and adopted family, the Begays have out here. Woke him up, and showed him this thing Art left for us to return to his family, something assured now, that his in-laws could not take and further the loss of this dear man, only in his mid-30s at departure...
For those so inclined, please send your strongest prayers for Art’s spirit, and his inherent right to go home, to continue on the Beauty Way.
I miss my friend immensely, especially tonight. Sun will be rising soon, but I will rest from these sad past two days, assured that Art made certain I would find this spirit-guided discovery, communication between brothers, transcending the sadness, as we have always done, Art and I. And I expect, it will not be the last.
August 21st, 2009