01 February 2014

Hijo Del Canon Del Cobre, In memory of Santiago James Barnaby, guide and friend

Hijo Del Canon Del Cobre, Son of the Copper Canyon

in memory of Santiago  James Barnaby July 22,1946-January 25,2014




They don't make many men like Santiago Barnaby anymore. He was a rare one. Rouge scholar, scientist, anthropologist, artist, philanthropic in his efforts  to help contribute and sustain the Raramuri culture of Chihuahua's Copper Canyon. Santiago was a great story teller, cultural ambassador and my guide on my collection trip for the Musical Instrument Museum in 2011.  We spent 10 days documenting the traditional musicians of the canyon.  Guide, great friend and God Father to many Tarahumara children. He helped build schools and sponsored ceremonies for the community. He was  kind, generous and a genuine culture keeper. In ancient times there were the Sacred Traders ; the Puchtecas, who travelled the sacred trade routes of the Americas and these same mountains and canons bringing their seeds of change, the gift of song and ceremonies for rain along the way.  People danced and shared their stories from other lands. Sharing the protocals of friendship spanning thousands of years.

A guide is a photographer’s best friend in the field. They help you see what is essential and important.   Their reputation, trust with the people offers invaluable insight to help us record our work. Santiago  helped me see and love the people of the canon. So much changes with each year; the media wars continue; people stopped visiting like they used too because of the fear. Still the ceremonies are offered; The sweet long note of a hand made violin lingers; the driving tuba and accordion and deep carino, the canto of the Soul of El Hijo Del Pueblo pumps  life through beating hearts. Yes my heart skipped a beat knowing a rare kind of man as Santiago, a modern Puchteca has left this world. We are all enriched all the more for the love he shared for a people, a time and a place.  He taught us  much.

Spencer and Emi Mac Callum brought him as one of my first visitors to Casa Azul in Pueblo Viejo my first spring living in Casas Grandes.  I fed him green chile and we sat around the table sharing stories.  He knew the people in my father and Bennett's Tarahumara photographs. He named the people of the portraits that hung on my  living room walls made in the early 80s. Faces I have known from archives of photographs.  In slides, in Black and white fiber prints in the darkroom, in color prints made  at Richard Jacksons's photo lab; RED, and dark strong faces. Fat baby cheeks. Colors and prayers.  

Santiago joined  the Spirit world on Sunday January 25, 2014 rising  like a phoenix to help light our way to understand better  and hold dear these people and way of life  and cherish what is rare ,beautiful and good. He passed away in Montana staying warm in the cold. I hope he is now free in the warm cosmic glow like the long ray of sun down the canyon. 

Thank you SEB my FB friend who shared these beautiful words; 
"I always have to remind myself that they haven't vanished, they just went Home earlier than I to a place where postcards come in the form of dreams. As Bobby says to Christina as he dies in the storm in the film The Perfect Storm: "There are no goodbyes, only Love."

Thank you Kathyrn for holding space to share our lost of our great compadre and for sharing the joy of meeting you all these years since Santiago introduced me to your writing  that cold winter day in Pueblo Viejo on his way to Tucson. 

it's all for you to see at the MIMs Here's a flickr set of our journey; 


The beautiful work of fellow photographer Richard Speedy and tribute to our compadre.

Santiago on our first leg of our Copper Canyon journey.








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