Sometime last week, Federal Judge Ricardo Urbina ruled against 77 leases for exploration for gas and oil drilling, including 103,000 acres around the canyonlands of southeastern Utah.
However in Blanding, despite the judge’s order, the Sheepherder ignore the ruling and consented to drilling.
The dentist’s drill shook the Sheepherder’s head, sending vibrations into his ear and brain. With his numb mouth wide open and his head thrown back, he realized his fists were clinched in his jacket.
A tube was sucking his saliva as he wondered, “Is a mutton sandwich really worth all the drilling? Doesn’t he know that the drilling might be in an empty hole?”
In his daze, Faith Hill was singing on the Colorado FM radio. He opened his eyes just in time to see a gas mask being put to his nose. Later when he came to, the gas mask was still there, and this time Johnny Rivers was singing.
The two dental assistants were busy talking about husbands, kids, kids classmates, wedding anniversaries, and their teen daughters looking at prom dresses on the internet. He tried to think about his sheep and wondered if his dad had shot the dogs that killed one of the sheep.
Finally the dentist said, “The stitches will dissolve in about a week, I like to check on you next week, here is a prescription for pain and something for the infection and we’ll see in four months for the implants.”
The Sheepherder mumbled thanks, almost smiled to show his Alfred E. Neuman look, and wondered, “A long time to wait for a mutton sandwich.”
Sheepherder’s dental problems began on the Brigham Young University athletic fields in 1967. A flag football game was being played between the Arizona Club and Sheepherder team - the Tribe of Many Feathers.
Towards the end of the game, as usual the Redskins were behind when the kickoff went to the Sheepherder. He ran past a couple of tacklers but ran head-on into another player. His front tooth kept on running. A search in the dark for the tooth proved futile.
While the Sheepherder was teaching art in 1970 at Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, UT, a dentist put in a post for a brand new tooth. That tooth last for 42 years until this year, when a mutton rib won two out of three fall.
It was from Brigham City that Sheepherder went to the 1972 Presidental Inaugration for President Richard Nixon. Although Sheepherder didn’t play an instrument except a rubber band or a shoe horn, he did know how to carry the Stars and Stripes with the Navajo Nation Band that was invited to the historic day in years past.
It was cold there and the rain fell off and on as we marched down the Pennsylvania Avenue past what seemed like thousands and thousands of people.
We were dressed in red velveteen shirts and white pants and red moccasins, silver belts, squash blossoms and a white headband.
The President and his wife and political friends were in a bullet-proof enclosure. As we finished the parade, we marched in front of protesters who were yelling at us.
“You crazy Indians, Nixon is your enemy! He’ll steal your lands and take away your language and culture!”
Some of our band members were college students and began to argue with them and they came at us to fight us. And then they began to chase us.
Sheepherder was running with the American Flag back to the buses. While away from the protesters, Sheepherder slammed into a car and got a huge bruise. I think the police were in the area, so we were escorted safely back to our buses.
Despite the drama, we were able to attend festivities that night at a large hotel. In the crowded ballroom, there were three western bands. In one corner, a Pow Wow singing was going on and on the other side a large group of Navajos were singing popular songs appropriate for the winter season. The buses finally left the next day for Gallup, NM. With two drivers, it probably took 22 hours.
At Montezuma Creek dental clinic, a flipper was made. A flipper is false tooth that fits in the mouth and can be taken in and out. There is a problem with flippers. You sometimes forget where you left it. Mrs. Sheepherder said, “Put it in a certain place and you will always find it.” Sometimes it is hard to do. The other day Sheepherder went to empty the trash and some other errands. When he got home he still had the trash with him.
This past summer, while herding sheep among the rocks at Borrego Pass, Sheepherder jumped off a four foot rock ledge and felt a pain in his back. As months went by, a pinch nerve was discovered. The backbone is pinched by swollen disk, so I tried a visit to the chiropractor.
In Blanding, electric pads are hooked up and the machine is turned on. It is supposed to help the muscles heal so Sheepherder submits to electric shock treatment.
The other option was to go to Salt Lake to the Spinal Clinic. While laying on the table Sheepherder thought he saw two nurses carry in a needle, but according to Mrs. Sheepherder it was only a 23 gauge needle. Medicine is shot close to the swollen disk, to heal and shrink it.
So far the results seems promising, so Sheepherder can abide by the Federal Judge’s ruling, no more drilling.