700 Haivana Nakya, AZ 1992

The road leads directly to a distant village, lying at the foot of a mountain across the desert that lies before me. My eyes can't make out any signs of a village, but a road sign about 25 miles back had told me it was ahead. The village would be there. It had to be. Apprehension crosses my mind. I remembered about last week, Turning left off the state highway, 50 miles south toward the Mexican border, I expected to find the village I was headed for. But the village I reached, beyond two mountains of cactus forests, was not a "village" as I imagined. In this vast land, one can easily see for 10 or 20 miles. Yes, a country road is near, yet far -- I ponder on such words, bashful at my own thought, as I confirm how small an existence I am out here. It is also a confirmation that humans merely exist on the palm of some greater being. Looking down at my foot on the accelerator, I see the snake leggings on my shins, a reliable guard against rattlesnakes. What for? Why? Am I afraid to encounter a living thing in the middle of this ocean-wide desert, that I can't coexist with it? A shiver runs up my spine.Embarrassed at my other self, who is already beginning to forget why he is driving in a car, I wipe my brow. Now , I see a village about 5 miles ahead. I should be preparing myself for the usual ritual. I enter the village, of about 10 villages. I park my car in a lot. And I wait. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. I am aware of the people staring at me from the houses. A door of the house in the furthest corner opens.An Indian reservation -- to me, this word contains anticipation and uneasiness, as well as respect for something that should be left untouched. Native Americans -- they are the ones who know the fears and blessings of nature, and who acquired much wisdom from it. They are the people who always, clearly, expressed pride in their coexistence with nature. Several months has gone by since I began visiting villages, scattered over the reservation about the size of Shikoku Island in Japan. And I wonder why it excites me so.It was an old man who came out of the door. Deep lines are etched on his face. Probably one of the elders, he starts to walk toward me. I figure there is 300 feet between us. I start to walk, too. Already as usual, five or six dogs kept loose are glaring at me, ready to jump as soon as I make one unnatural move. The distance between the old man and me is about 20 feet now. I notice that his back is slightly bent. His gaze that pierces through me is filled with that confidence of one who has spent his life with the working of nature. I have come to this village with the purpose to take photographs. But, I did not bring permission. I have never taken trouble with paper work to take my photographs. I have no interest in taking pictures that require permission. When I come across something I want to photograph, that is the moment to stop time. If I can't , I just let that time go back in its course.In two or three more steps, we would be shaking hands. Now I will find out if the old man before me would agree to let this Oriental, with the same black hair as his, stop time for thirty minutes in his village in the wilderness. And the importance and the non-significance of it all must be questioned. The moment of truth has come.