(Before the invaders came...
before the bulldozers came.)
This painting illustrates a traditional Tohono O'odham tale of southern Arizona: about a time "long ago", when things aren't like they are now, and there was a little more magic apparent in the world.
In portraying this vanished time, I thought it appropriate to set the scene in a place which has just recently vanished: Honeybee Canyon just north of Tucson, Arizona. This place has just fallen to the developer's blade: it is now the site of million-dollar-plus homes, and a Ritz-Carlton Resort Hotel.
This painting is acrylic on broadcloth, with a handmade frame made of pine lumber and saguaro ribs, 30"x 40", c. 1999, Luna Rivera (signed "Turtle Woman")
Scroll below the painting to read the tale of Coyote and the Baskets, and a poem I wrote about it.
Surely you've seen the baskets used by the people to carry large or heavy burdens. They've 4 legs of mesquite attached to a woven netting of yucca fiber that holds the objects to be carried.
Long ago, the legs were real legs and would carry the baskets wherever their owners wished after they had been laden. One day, as owners and baskets were both busy about the hard business of carrying water, along happened Old Man Coyote.
Seeing the baskets going about, he sat right down and laughed:
"How funny you all look!" He snorted and giggled. The baskets continued on, and so did he:
"Bird legs, bird legs...you guys look just like a bunch of storks!" And so on, and on...The baskets were becoming angry, and when Coyote did not cease his teasing, all the baskets suddenly stopped in their tracks and stood quite still.
"We won't walk again," they declared. "From now on people must carry us!"
And that is the way it is today
Coyote, Coyote: you tricky old man.
Why did you make fun of the baskets that ran?
Coyote, Coyote: listen to you -
teasing the baskets made them feel blue!
Coyote, Coyote: you just wouldn't quit.
So the baskets got angry,
they threw a real fit.
Coyote, Coyote: it's all your fault -
On that day the baskets decided to halt.
Coyote, Coyote: guess you're happy now.
People carry the baskets
with a strap 'round their brow!
This painting is available for sale. Inquire via E-Mail.