January 13, 2008

Acoma shrine to Cowboys

In an Ancient Culture, a Team Takes RootGilbert Concho, a 60-year-old master potter and spiritual elder of the Acoma tribe here, navigates these worlds. In his house, halfway between the traditions on the reservation and the new economy of the casino, he has transformed a spare bedroom into a shrine to the Dallas Cowboys.

It appears to have been designed by the team’s owner, Jerry Jones, himself: 40 Cowboys T-shirts, 15 pairs of socks, a dozen hats, 10 jackets, 2 blankets, a wine bottle bearing Mel Renfro’s likeness, a pennant, an ashtray and a tortilla warmer, all awash in blue and silver.

Even here, in what the Acoma describe as the oldest continuously occupied village in the United States, the Dallas Cowboys connect a community fighting to maintain ancient traditions while adapting to the modern world.

Concho worries constantly. He frets about losing the next generation to drugs and alcohol and teenage pregnancy. He dwells on his declining health. And he wonders, like much of America, if the pop starlet Jessica Simpson is messing with the confidence of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

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