On September 23, we moved on to the east of Billings, Montana. We looked for a place to camp and found a free campsite at a Fishing access along the Bighorn River. It sounded interesting and we like interesting. It turned out to be a parking area, that allowed overnight camping. This area is also interesting because it is on the Crow Reservation. We decided to stay and enjoy the river.
We set the solar up and it got a pretty good charge in the batteries.
We were planning to do a float on the river. The river is pretty fast moving, but it looked like fun. I read that there was a diversion dam just upstream from our site. I went and talked to a local outfitter and we discussed the options. We talked to a company that would do a shuttle for us. Their cost was more than we wanted to pay. We discussed our options and after just spending one very quiet night along the river, we decided to move east. It is becoming more sure every time we talk to our daughter that she will deliver our new grand daughter a little early. We really want to be back in time for the birth. The due date is 4 weeks away. We felt the urge to keep moving.
On September 24, we decided to on to see a friend and his family in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. When we left our campsite along the Bighorn, we had seen very little of the Crow Reservation. What I had seen, looked like a normal farming valley. I am not sure how many of the people living in that part of the reservation are members of the Crow. We left our campsite and drove through some hills. It was a very dry and arid part of the reservation, then down into the town of Crow Agency. The area around Crow Agency looked very depressed with smaller homes and it was not a very attractive area. Then we drove out to the east across the eastern part of the reservation. The very beautiful arid land was dotted with small but nice houses. Each looked like a small rural family home. Then we crossed into the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. That area looked a little nicer with a few small towns and the same small nice homes spread apart. It looked like a very quiet and beautiful place to live.
You may ask, why did I describe the reservations? As you may have read already, I have done a great deal of reading on the history of the Native Americans while I have been on this trip. I had never seen the communities on an Indian Reservation. I really want to understand what kind of life they live. I felt like driving through was a good first step in that understanding.
While we were driving through, I witnessed something that will stay with me. I saw a man that was wearing a police uniform. His car had “Corrections” painted on the side. He was with two teenagers that were painting a fence. The strange part is the corrections officer was painting the fence with them. I have no idea what the real story was, but I would like to think that it was a much higher level of concern and direction by the community leader than is common in a typical American town.
It certainly is not my place to write about the history and the current plight of the Native Americans. That has been well covered in excellent books like “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown.
Oppressing people is always ugly and wrong. Oppressing people and becoming rich from what you steal from them is worse. The actions of our forefathers at times disgust me. It could be said that the action of the Europeans against the native Americans and the enslaved African Americans was just as bad as the actions of the Nazi’s in Germany during the 1930’s and 40’s if not worse.
Why do I bring all of this up in my blog? An important part of my travels is learning about the area I am visiting. Not just the good, but also the bad and ugly. I have always wanted to learn more about Native American history and I have accomplished that on this trip.
I am not sure what if anything can or should be done to correct these terrible injustices. I think the first step is to correctly represent history. To educate everyone on what really happened and not hold up some of these terrible people as American heroes. The true heroes were the ones that were fighting for peace and understanding. Those were both Native Americans and Europeans.
I may have offended someone by this writing. I am sorry if that offense is because of an error in proper terminology.
We made the rest of the drive through western Montana. It is a beautiful area with some forests and some pasture and grasslands. We saw more Pronghorns than cattle in some sections.
Those guys are hard to get a picture of without a telephoto lens. Next up is a visit to the Black Hills and to an old friend.