Living in harmony

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By Renee Fajardo
News From Indian Country 10-08

 Dale Field of Summit Guides in Keystone, Colorado towns the states only Native fly fishing guide service. He is pictured with Dylan Ansine, 11 years old, of Denver and a descendant of the Picuris Pueblo in New Mexico. 

Dale Field is a soft spoken man with a powerful message. We must live in harmony with each other and the environment if we are to survive. The 65-year-old Colorado native walks his talk. Take fly-fishing for example. For 24 years, Field has been one of the states most respected guides and shows no signs of slowing down.

Field comes by his passion naturally. His grandfather was a Scotchman who immigrated to Colorado in 1873. Known for their tribal clans and deep respect for nature, Grandfather Field became a market hunter. These were the men and occasional women who provided fresh game for the mining camps and lumber camps. Eventually the senior Field purchased a cattle ranch in Northwest Colorado and settled down with a woman from the White River Ute Nation.

It was through his grandmother’s nurturing that Field developed a strong sense of community and devotion to nature. “She always told me I came from a people who were bound to each other. We were to respect the earth and each other above all. This is what we had to do to live in harmony and to survive. My grandfather also came from a people who were tied to each other through clan. So early on, I knew we were all in this thing together. The land, the people, all one. We forget sometimes that deep down inside we are all indigenous to some land somewhere. My grandmother taught me this, ” said Field.

His grandmother’s influence has set him apart from other guides in the state. He is the only Native-owned guide service in Colorado. To respect her memory and the privacy she lived her life by he asked that her name not be mentioned publicly. However, growing up he often heard her say, “You are mostly part of us and will always belong to us as long as you live.”

That message is as powerful today as it was 50 years ago. Field lives his life in accordance with the values his Ute relations taught him. He is a prime example of children of mixed blood who had to find their own identity in a changing world during the mid 1950s and while he has forged his success in a world his grandmother could only imagine, he has never forgotten what she taught him.

“I was a product of two cultures and I knew instinctively that how I lived my life would reflect on generations to come,” said Field. “It was my grandmother’s wisdom as I grew and my Native heritage that instilled in me my sense of stewardship for the earth.”

 

After graduating from the School of Mines in Golden Colorado with a degree in Mining Engineering, Field worked for numerous mining companies in the United States. He never gave up his childhood commitment to being an advocate for balancing environmental issues and the needs of the community. In fact, today he is part of the Snake River Task Force in Summit County, whose purpose is to protect and enhance the Snake River Basin through education, research, and the implementation of a system-oriented and community-based decision model.

“When you have been raised so close to the land, it is always a part of who you are,” said Field. It was not surprising that the man who was always taking his friends and colleagues on guided fly-fishing trips to exotic places like Chili and Argentina decided that when he retired he was going to do what he loved: fish, guide fishing, teach fishing and fish some more!

For over two decades Field and his wife Kate have owned and operated Summit Guides, a fly-fishing outfit operating out of Keystone Village in Keystone, Colorado. Every guest who stays at Keystone in the summer gets a free fly-fishing clinic from either Field or one of his 13 guides. Field is a gentle teacher who loves to teach children and women to fly fish.

“This is a sport that needs more women and children of all cultures to be involved. It is about being one with nature and about observing your natural environment,” Smiled Field. His own daughter, who is a grown woman now, began fly-fishing at 7 years old. She too guides occasionally.

“I want to pass on the legacy of my grandparents by instilling in those who pass through my shop the sense of awe and respect we should have toward the earth. I am a product of the Rocky Mountains and the Ute Nation; the spirit of the west is ingrained in me. I think through fly fishing we can all get in tune with that harmony.”

Summit Guides never stops fishing. They fish four season all over the state. They offer float fishing on the Blue and Colorado rivers and wade fishing on the Blue, Colorado, South Platte, Arkansas, Eagle, Snake, Williams Fork, Middle Fork rivers and Muddy, Ten Mile and Reeder creeks. “Imagine fly fishing while it is snowing, beautiful. Most folks think fishing is only for summer but my ancestors knew the land never sleeps. Fishing is for all times and all seasons!” laughed Field.

However, it is summer now and Field has fishing dreams, kids fishing derbies and kids contest. From July through August Filed and his shop work hard to get the young ones hooked, so to say. This is a lifetime gift that will stay with the kids forever. In fact, my own 11-year-old daughters still talk about the day they learned to cast a fly.

To make your own fish dreams come true or for more information call 970-468-8945 or visit www.summitguides.com.

 

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