>Drums, Beasts, and Crime Scenes

>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!

We watched a little basketball, a lot of dancing, crowds of people, browsed through the vendors, ate some fry bread . . . it was a gas.

I even shot a short video of part of the 7:00 PM Grand Entry, which I uploaded to YouTube:

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)!


The Bison Range

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.

Here are a couple looks at the Flathead River Valley from the top of Red Sleep Mountain.

It wasn’t long before we got into some bison.

Lots of pronghorn too.

Got a picture of a cow elk. We also saw a big bull on our way up Red Sleep, but he was moving into the trees so I didn’t get a picture of him.

This grasshopper hopped on board for a while as well.

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.

McDonald Lake

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!

We wrapped things up with a stop at Lynn’s 2 drive-in in St. Ignatius (Lynn’s 1 being in Ronan, of course) for milkshakes. I had a pizza burger too.

It was great to get away, even if for less than 24 hours. Whenever I get away like this, then come home to chores and responsibilities and all that bullshit, I am reminded of this quote:

“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.

6 thoughts on “>Drums, Beasts, and Crime Scenes”

  1. >Ohhhh, I loves me some Lynn's.And also: are they ever not doing construction on Highway 93? All of my childhood memories of the Flathead Valley involve sitting in a hot car waiting for the flagman to let traffic through.

  2. >Lynn's onion rings–they kick the Jack in the Box taco's ass up and down the block. Seriously. Love the grasshopper on the windshield pic!

  3. >That's a bold statement, Rebecca. I can't necessarily agree, but I can't disagree either. I'll just say I'd like to die with a bellyfull of both!

  4. >Hmmm, I'll have to try this Lynn's. I've been meaning to drive up to the bison range for a while now. In fact, I was going to go today, but I forgot I loaned my park pass to someone.I've seen the Nike swoosh in Native beadwork before. It's not uncommon.

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