>111th Annual Arlee Celebration
Last weekend for the 4th of July, at the last minute Julia and I changed our original plans and decided to head up to Arlee for the Powwow instead, with plans to just find a place to camp somewhere in the Mission Valley. We left late afternoon/early evening and headed straight for Arlee. We got there some time after 5:00; the road construction on 93 sucks! We went through the front gate and asked the attendant there — after assuring him we had no weapons, drugs, alcohol or fireworks — where we had to register if we wanted to camp there. “You don’t hafta register,” he said. “Just find a spot and camp wherever you want.” So that’s what we did. I loved the fact that there was no bureaucratic bullshit involved in staking out a spot to sleep. Huzzahs for rural America!
Julia was marveling at the clothes and costumes, of course — particularly the beadwork. The artistic level to create these costumes is high. And then she pointed out one image that made me cringe — the Nike Swoosh embroidered into this young woman’s costume.
This was troubling to me. As much as I enjoyed the experience, I have a lot of mixed feelings whenever I visit the rez. I lived there for 5 or 6 years, and those mixed feelings have only grown. I’m kind of kicking them around in my brain as something to write more of an essay about. Suffice to say I totally understand what moved those young radicals to start AIM back in the 70s. I think we need a little more of that.
We did camp out right in the middle of a big field with other tents and teepees all around. It was great falling asleep to drumming, watching the sky, and feeling a cool breeze. And no mosquitos (which are thick in Missoula this year)!
We got up in the morning and headed north to cruise through the Bison Range before it got too hot out. I try to go at least once or twice a year — it is one of my favorite spots on the planet.
We also saw plenty of deer and lots of birds too. No bighorn sheep, bears or rattlesnakes, though, all of which I’ve seen various times over the years. I love going there. I’ll be back for sure in the fall, when the bulls will be bugling.
I wanted to stop by McDonald Lake in the Missions for a little recon, as I just wrote a scene in a chapter I am working on in my novel workshop that takes place there. I’ve been there several times. It’s a beautiful spot, and if you drive up beyond it there is great hiking too. In my story a couple assholes get gunned down here too!
“I like it here fine. Maybe that’s part of it. I just didn’t want to come back and fall into the same old way of living a life that I know has got to change. Maybe it was a taste of freedom.” — John Francis from Planet Walker
It was a good weekend.