Wednesday, July 30

21 Days Of Vacation

Day 10: White Bird, ID

Pride yesterday, shame today.

This is a sad place. It was the site of the first battle between the U.S. Army and the Nee-Me-Poo, or Nez Perce, nation. Although the army was soundly defeated, the whole affair could have been avoided if the whites had just dealt honestly from the beginning. The Battle at White Bird may have been a victory for the Indians, but it marked the eventual decline of their culture after numerous other skirmishes with American forces. The ending is the all too familiar one: a native people decimated, relocated, cheated. For those who wish to read more, this
National Park Service pamphlet is an excellent history.

I found this place on a business trip driving from Spokane to Boise. The region in between is beautiful forest, river, and prairie, dotted with Lewis and Clark adventure sites. I plan to go back someday and explore this breathtaking land, and the native culture that belongs to it. For now I am haunted by the memory of standing between two hillocks on a cold afternoon, with miles and miles of open grandeur, a leaden sky crying fitful tears, the feel of ghosts who have been wronged hiding in the grass. About the only positive experience from this brief stay was my education of a people, and a greater appreciation for an iconic American hero, Chief Joseph.

"From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

Teasers on this trip: I know nothing about the Clearwater and Flathead rivers; all the more reason to return

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is very close to where I grew up. Every time I hear the "I will fight no more forever" line I feel like crying.