Monday, February 8, 2010

The Hard Winter

South Dakota, 2002
The long drive on 44 into Rapid City is becoming more familiar. Two miles from the park entrance I pass through Interior. The Badlands wall runs off to the distance on the right for awhile and on the left, the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation and the White River. Barbed wire fences with wooden gates anticipate a few far off ranch buildings. The abandoned Chicago-Milwaukee-St Paul and Pacific Railroad draws a line through the grass first on the right, then left. The Conata Road crosses. An abandoned old car is a landmark, as is the coyote that looks more dead each time I pass. Nothing blocks the sky, which is as active as the ocean. Signs that mark with an x where someone died on the straight and empty road sometimes stand in clusters of 3 or 4. More...
I tend to like to paint environments which are harsh, which is why I loved spending a month as artist in residence in South Dakota. But the harshness of the environment is not a facade. For those who live on this land survival can mean a life and death battle with the elements.
While the world is focusing on the tragedy in Haiti, there is another emergency here in the U.S.  Ice storms have toppled power lines and disrupted heat supplies for one of the poorest Indian tribes in this country, as blizzards crossed over the plains.

With unemployment up to 80% and desperate poverty, I guess you could say that the Oglala Sioux Tribe is always in a state of emergency, but if you'd like to help them get through the winter and buy propane for the most vulnerable members and elders of the tribe, here's a link.


  1. Very good of you to mention this and to post the link. It's true international disasters get a lot of press (and that's good) but the quiet pockets of poverty and suffering at home usually go unnoticed.

    ps- I subscribe to your blog and not a single post has shown up for me in months! grrrr. I have a lot of catching up to do (and I'm glad).

  2. Thanks for that, and for subscribing. I don't know enough about how the tool works to figure out why it's not working though. I bookmarked your site and check in at least once a week. It's always a great (and sane) perspective...


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