A Measure of What’s Most Important

Aug 15th, 2012 | By | Category: 24-1: Communicating Yesterday's Stories Today
By Rachael Marchbanks

We recently experienced a powerful reminder of our most important raison d’être here at Tribal College Journal (TCJ). Two weeks before press time, at 2:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, TCJ’s neighbor and friend Nate Funmaker let us know that the local sheriff had advised an evacuation for the neighborhood where TCJ’s office is located. A wildfire had started the day before, and it was quickly spreading toward Mancos.

Even though fires were already burning elsewhere in Colorado, and we hadn’t received measurable precipitation for weeks, the news was still surprising and alarming. Heading directly to the TCJ headquarters, my husband and I loaded up documents and equipment so TCJ staff could operate offsite for the indefinite future.

Surveying the office and making snap decisions about what to bring and what to leave behind, I was surprised to realize that most of the items we really needed could fit into a four-door sedan. The rest (our enormous printer, scanner, copier, and fax machine) is certainly important, but could be replaced. Most of our files are stored electronically and backed up offsite. Even the proofs for the issue you hold in your hands were easily retrievable. The back issues in storage could never be replaced, but we were consoled knowing that TCJ’s complete archives are now available online.

Despite the stress of the crisis, we were encouraged by the knowledge that our invaluable assets—TCJ’s circle of employees, associates, and friends—were already safe. We could rest assured that whatever might happen in the coming weeks, the individuals who reliably and consistently dedicate so much of their time and energy to help produce “The voice and vision of American Indian higher education” were out of harm’s way. Thanks to donated office space from Simbeck and Associates, we returned to the business of publishing. We’re also grateful that our friends and colleagues at the tribal colleges and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium leant their support.

As it turns out, the determined fire fighters—including the husband of our advertising coordinator, Kim Cox—successfully turned the wildfire away from Mancos, and as of press time, the Weber Canyon Fire has not burned any homes. Most of the evacuation advisories have been lifted, and we are already packing to return to TCJ’s “home.”

Although we are grateful to have averted a potential catastrophe, we are saddened to know that others have not been so fortunate. President David Yarlott from Little Big Horn College just shared news of more fires burning in Montana, and other fires are blazing throughout the West. Just as we count our blessings here at home, our hearts go out to those who are confronting natural disaster.

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