max early



Native landscapes


cha-sh chi

Never noticed nor saw a Cha-sh chi before
living my life in Laguna Pueblo, finally
meeting not one, but a whole family.

Potter June spoke of good clay near Blue Water Place.
So Lulee and Papa Max went hunting for slippery earth.
They set out, that late May spring day.

Morning’s end found them on the edge, a shallow cliff.
Unknowingly, the Cha-sh chi observed their clay quest.
Papa Max said, what a beautiful green luminous lizard.

Size of a baby alligator. The Cha-sh chi looked at them.
Papa Max spoke – Ha-dyi Mitsi? Ha-dyi Straniyasheh?
They looked around and several Cha-sh chi listened.

Suddenly, all the Cha-sh chi turned their heads northeastward
To reveal their close clay, where Straniyasheh Mitsi lay.
Yet, Grandma Elsie warned us about the Cha-sh chi

My sister and I were on horseback and those Cha-sh chi were chasing us.
Papa Max laughed in disbelief, then Grandma Elise replied, No Bullshit!
Those Cha-sh chi were chasing us and running right beside us until…

Back home in Kawaika, I told my cousin Gina’s boyfriend, Frank
How Cha-sh chi showed me where to find clay round their house
Frank said, they love to chase you, like this one time at sheep camp...

Cha-sh chi



Cha-sh chi                               New Mexico Collared Lizard
Ha-dyi Mitsi                            Where is the clay
Ha-dyi Straniyasheh          Where is our mother
Straniyasheh Mitsi              Our Mother Clay
Kawaika                                  Laguna Pueblo



from one comes many

Trio of white parrots touch bills
Ceasing summer's long drought
Their twirling rain feathers fall
As monsoons return with autumn

Parrot Clan beckons water spirits
One turquoise, one green, one blue
Time to harvest Salt Woman anew
So there were many at the dance

Their twirling rain feathers fall
One turquoise, one green, one blue
Three parrots carry one grain of salt
From Zuni’s lake of Salt Woman

Many water spirits hover above
White parrots, joining beaks
To ensure a monsoon comes
Upon the desert lands



Here Comes the Chabiyu! — Dunah! Chabiyu!

The Chabiyu is a black masked bugaboo that wears a trench coat and carries a horsewhip.He first appears at Laguna during the winter dances on Christmas Eve. He comes to publicly chasten naughty children and adults and hates it when people whistle. A grandmother will burn chili seeds in the woodstove to signal the Chabiyu to come and take her misbehaved grandchild away. Later on, when he arrives, the grandmother will plead with the Chabiyu not to take her child.  The disobedient boy or girl will promise to be good. The grandma soon pays the Chabiyu with food so he will go on his way. When he cracks his whip, children run.

Chabiyu Gukacha-chanɨ.
The two of them saw the Chabiyu.
Shru-bootsa—you got scared
first. Then, I got scared—Su-bootsa.

Dunah!  Chabiyu!

Sh'eh K'u-bootsanɨ
Then the two of them got scared
Before we knew it
She got scared too—dzika k'u-bootsa.

Shranata—you said
Bami pa-ah bootsa—don’t scare those two
Chabiyu, and please, don’t scare me
Eh guymeh-eh, bami k'u-bootsata.

Whip cracking Chabiyu!

Sh'eh k'uwa-bootsana
Then all the people got scared.
Before we knew it
He got scared too—dzika k'u-bootsa.

Sehnata—I said
basha pi-bootsa—don't scare him
Chabiyu, and don't scare me anymore!
Eh baminna k'u-bootsa!

Dunah! Chabiyou!


Chabiyu Gukacha-chanɨ.
The two of them saw the Chabiyu.
Mameh su-bootsa—I sure got scared.
Did you get scared? — Tru-bootsa?


rock your mocs

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins and remember
the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave in other
people's lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
– Mary T. Lathrap, Judge Softly

Wasn't it more than a century ago,
All of us wore moccasins every day.
Those gentle traces left Mother Earth so
Soft – her surface soaked the rainy way.

With song and dance, we rocked our mocs
Before barbed-wire borders, shut land so vast.
Time told by the Sun, we had no clocks,
But moccasin footwear – our pave-less past.

Grandfather said this would happen when
We tread in white man's hard sole shoes.
Imprints foreign, depress soil like six men.
Now rain ran as arroyos widened, our clues
   That moccasins always protect the ground,
   Secure our feet and keep the world sound.