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I never went to a concert at the Paolo Soleri. My memorable sonic experiences were at lesser venues in Albuquerque: Johnson Gymnasium at the University of New Mexico where Joni Mitchell was backed by Allen Ginsberg and Stewart Brand on cymbals and drums (or were those two different occasions?) The New Mexico State Fairgrounds where my auditory nerves were seared by Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night, and Canned Heat. UNM’s bottomless Pit, where I took my high school girlfriend, Dawn Wagner, to see Simon and Garfunkel.

Later on when I was covering the crime beat for the Albuquerque Journal, I called-in sick and escorted my colleague Susan Landon (long dead now from ovarian cancer) to the same auditorium to see Fleetwood Mac. There was a ritual then (still?) of lighting matches in celebration of the music. My mind inflated with second-hand whiffs of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, I watched as the random flarings locked into stair-step constellations while Stevie Nicks — I was in love with Stevie Nicks — gyrated down on the microscopic stage. Order out of chaos. Or something like that.

It is remarkable how evocative musical memories can be. Hence the loud chords of protest struck by the rumors of the Paolo Soleri’s impending destruction. Wednesday night, I am told, the Marley Brothers performed there, proclaiming that the concert would be the Soleri’s last. They played Leaders leaving behind the implication that the leaders of the Santa Fe Indian School are betraying the people who have entrusted them to make wise and honorable decisions.

The outcry over the Paolo Soleri is but a fraction of what would have ensued if the All Indian Pueblo Council had acted forthrightly in 2008 and disclosed what it had long intended for the historic campus. A brave investigative journalist might uncover whether these “leaders” acted solely according to the school’s best interest or whether any of them also stand to benefit financially from the hotel-museum-strip mall — whatever is secretly in the works.

So many questions have been allowed to go unanswered. Just who runs Flintco, the Native-owned company that is billing the Indian School for demolition and construction? Has anyone in the outside world monitored the bidding process or Flintco’s performance or looked for conflicts of interest? Has anyone audited the books and determined that no Federal money was used to tear down the buildings?

At a higher level of the hierarchy, are Earl Devaney, Scott Culver and the other Interior Department functionaries who are letting these matters slide merely overworked or apathetic — or under pressure from Senators Udall and Bingamen, who look to the Pueblo Council to deliver votes? Have they too confused the interests of the leaders with those of the led?

George Johnson
The Santa Fe Review