Felix Valencia: A map to the Pascua Reservation
"The lines on the asphalt are fingers pointing to the people who live on my street. I trace the outlines with my toes and slump even further into Saturday boredom.

New Pascua is quiet, and it's only midafternoon. With time to kill, I decide to draw.

I sort through the photographs and drawings that have accumulated at the bottom of my backpack: my geographies of the world. A picture catches my mind: my sister in her prom regalia, her crown of curls melting into her glittering purple gown, in front of the dead tree in the front yard. I flip the picture over and start to map out my sister's experience with senior prom.

For most people, a map is a visual plan of how to get somewhere. For me, a map is a story waiting to happen — the story of my room, of a friend's face, of the scars that line my forearm, or of the changing landscape of Tucson.

"Cognitive mapping," a term I learned from my ninth-grade humanities teacher, is something artists use to decode the small details of our lives that are often overlooked: the way footprints in the dirt lead away from a swing set, directing me where to go next. "

Get the Story:
Felix Ramone Valencia: Cognitive map helps him find his way on the rez (The Arizona Daily Star 8/30)