Arizona Indian Tale

I shared this story recently with some friends and thought, perhaps, my website visitors might enjoy it, as well.

When my daughter, Elizabeth, began her search for a college to attend, we made a trip out West to check out the Scripts Institute at the University of Southern California at San Diego. At that point in time “E” wanted to be a marine biologist and Scripts was one of the best schools in that discipline.

We had not had a vacation in a long time, so we decided to stop for a couple of days on our way home in Phoenix, Arizona to see the sights and rest. We chose a Hilton Resort called Point Tapitio.

One of the recreational activities offered at the resort was horseback riding. We thought riding through the desert would be a great, new experience and booked a ride. Since it was summer, they advised riding early in the morning, as in 6:00 a.m.

In the morning, before dawn, the courtesy car came to take us to the stable. When we arrived, we were told that our escort for the morning’s ride would be a Muscalero, Apache Indian named Robert.

I was really excited to meet Robert, as I had just recently read a book on the Muscalero Apaches and had a million questions to ask him.

Robert brought out our mounts, and “E” and I swung up into the saddle and off we went. Try as I might, I could not get Robert to say a word, to say I was disappointed was an understatement.

The scenery we were riding through was desert, and pretty stark and rocky, yet quite beautiful in its own way. We rode along silently for quite a ways. Then, the sun rose and made what at first was a drab desert dance with color.

I commented on the beautiful sunrise to “E” and she agreed. Then, my eyes focused on the trail before us. It had become very rocky and I was worried for the horses.

I said to “E”, “You know “E” when you watch those cowboy movies, the cowboys and Indians always gallop lickety split through the desert, but if this is what their galloping over they have to be nuts.”

Out of nowhere, Robert said, “Not Indians, Italians.”

I said, “What?”

And he proceeded off on a tirade about how the movie industry didn’t use real Indians in the movies, but rather Italians. Indians knew better than to gallop over rocky terrain.

After that, we couldn’t shut Robert up. He lectured on every conceivable slight to Indians that had ever been perpetrated by the “White” man.

“E” and I took it all in with amusement. But, we did show empathy toward his point of view. He even told us about being part of the modern day uprising at Wounded Knee.

We had a great ride and upon returning to the stable, thanked Robert appropriately with a big tip, and then headed back to our hotel.

The next morning as we were preparing to leave, the young woman at the reception desk called me over. She handed me a box, and said, “Robert said to give this to you. How did you ever get Robert to say anything? He never speaks to anyone.”

I opened the box and inside was a beautiful Indian necklace made of multi-colored beads.

The girl saw it and gasped. “That’s a very special necklace,” she said. “Robert must think a great deal of you.”

I never saw Robert again, but I still have the necklace, which I treasure.

End of story.


  1. May 22nd, 2007

    What do you make of the gift? Because you had a sympathetic ear? OR an available ear?


  2. May 22nd, 2007

    I have no idea what Robert’s motivation was for giving me the gift. I only know that it is wonderful remembrance of a unique experience, and I still treasure the necklace.

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