Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Tony Enos is a Two Culture guy who works at the intersection of music and activism.  I ran across him when I subscribed to “Indian Country Today” online, where he writes.  I thought this article by him, was interesting.

This is a link to him singing and dancing with friends.  

These are his “eight” misconceptions:

1.  Two Spirit is not a contemporary “new-age” movement.
2.  We have proof of Two Spirit individuals in historical photos.
3.  Gay is not an interchangeable term with Two Spirit.
4.  The Two Spirit Road is a road of long held traditions, prayer and responsibility.
5.  Two Spirit people held significant roles and were an integral part of a tribal social structures. 
6.  Two Spirit Does Not Indicate Colonized Boxed Definitions of “L”, “G”, “B”, “T” or “Q”.
7.  Two Spirit is a term only appropriate for Native people.
8.  Two Spirit People face compounded trauma’s on top of inter-generational trauma 


Enos says:  “A western mindset categorizes based on standards of ‘norm’ and ‘other’ in a kyriarchal (to rule or dominate) type structure. This mindset imposes a series of boxes to fit into (you’re either gay, you’re a lesbian, etc.) rather than being comfortable with gender fluidity, Two Spirit acknowledges the continuum of gender identity and expression.”

Usually I stay at least ten feet away from opinions about what “Indians” are or should be, and the same goes for “homosexuals”.  But sometimes someone asks me about these issues and I’m never quite sure what to say.  There is, as Enos #8 proposes, often an element of trauma that really needs a decent answer, especially if the person is young.


What Enos is doing is calling out a potential social group of people like himself, by marking perimeters.  I’ll mark mine:  at my age it’s “been there/done that.”  Today for me it’s a matter of engaging minds and often emotions, but these things are not just age-linked, but also generation-linked.  The gay guys I knew in college in the Fifties didn’t know what they were yet.  The gay kids I’ve known on the rez were a little undefined as well.  WWII leathermen were not Oscar Wilde types.  Nor were they anything like the portrayal in “War Party” of a “berdache” acted out by Rodney Grant, who was known — since the movie was shot here — as vigorously heterosexual in real life.  Some people would contest that French word “berdache” which suggests sexworker.  Some same sex relationships don’t even include physical sex.

In fact, in traditional societies there were many opportunities (maybe more than today) to form same sex partnerships, esp. among male hunting or war partners.  Gilgamesh as well as many Biblical examples stand as examples of deep relationships.  Greek and Roman culture included relationships something like apprenticeships or father/son partners, maybe with sex and maybe not.

This is all throat-clearing to clear the table.   Enos is Cherokee, which some people consider mostly “metis” or mixed, assimilated, though not the loosely organized descendants of the Euro fur-buyers and their indigenous wives, nor the early mixes of French and British with the East Coast tribes which were often war-based either against each other or unified to resist the Euro-countries.  Nor is that like the even older Spanish and Portugese mixes of Central and South American people.

What I’m saying is that there are so many opportunities and variations on the planet that there are as many kinds of “gay” as there are kinds of people, and then they are multiplied by the stages of life or the economic situation.  The most deadly danger is from people who see homosexuality as a challenge to their authority or competitors in commerce.

Enos is pretty cute with his rear-pocket foxtail in place of SF bandanna code, switching it around out there in a meadow, not on the streets of Philadelphia where he lives.  He’s kind of a cowboy and not much punk.  Non-threatening.  Not about the F-word.  No mention of AIDS.  Nice little group of friends.

But there is an element of activism that hasn’t been around for a long time.  Maybe it was AIDS that put people in the streets, demonstrating, being identified publicly, writing books, making speeches.  Much of that was enraged, desperate, aware of the sometimes lethal consequences of being known.  If you're marked to die, what matters?  But when you get as far out as Marilyn Manson, where you gonna go next?  Now kids use the F-word all the time, as though they were veteran Marines.  One wonders if anything shocks them.  The truth is that they’re as full of stereotypes and goofy assumptions as anyone else — just different things.

Demographics — age, “gender”, education, ethnicity, etc. — have become boxes, says Enos.  What's probably worse is that they’ve become marketing categories so that targeting customers and voters is based on the formulas and they are hard-edged — meaning that the brand-creators don’t like crossovers.  Techies and their damned design algorithms are even worse.  Apps are boxes and the people who compose them don’t get out much.  

Stereotypes are based on expectations and customs, and accommodations conform to them.  The “soft” ones aren’t much trouble and are sometimes funny, just confusing.  The hard ones will put people in prison and hang a sign on their backs that permits deadly abuse.  The lesson will be that the ultimate orgasm is death, maybe as much for the killer as for the victim.

Here’s another non-threatening video from “Indian Country” media, this one a hoop-dancer, evidently “het” at this point and attractive to blondes with cars.  Just included for discussion.  This is Nakota LaRance.  (French surname)

Young R.C. Gorman

And here’s R.C. Gorman, in youth almost unbearably sexy even with his shirt on, and in old age a majestic artist famous for his portrayal of women. Liz Taylor loved him.

Mature R.C. Gorman

Queens, if you like, but a specific interpretation with infinite variations.  Indisputably indigenous and identifiably Navajo, in a way no one had ever portrayed Indians before.  The lesson is that being deeply unique will make you universal.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


It appears that as a writer my body of work will be mostly this blog.  I’m grateful that the platform has remained fairly stable.  Blogger is a blog-publishing service that allows multi-user blogs with time-stamped entries. It was developed by Pyra Labs, which was bought by Google in 2003. Generally, the blogs are hosted by Google at a subdomain of”  I began to post on April Fool’s Day, 2005, intending to record Blackfeet materials I had saved and to promote my book about Bob Scriver, “Bronze Inside and Out” which had just been properly published by the University of Calgary Press.

That’s when I went through the looking glass, though I was more like the “Alice” in the series “Luther” than any little girl who chases rabbits.  One of the first things I confronted was the death of publishing.which I had assumed was a matter of merit, but soon was revealed as a kind of mafia.  I had known that about the art world and the rez, as well as city and county government back in Oregon.  And in the world of liberal religion.

The qualities of blogs are well-suited to intrigue, now-you-see-it/now-you-don’t.  They can be like journals, but the way I do it — which is called “long form,” they are more like anthologies.  For a while I used a lot of photos, both my own and those from sources online.  For a while I had a secondary supporting role in a whole other form that we called “vooks” — where the videos included were really the main thing, composed or “woven” of hot-camera real-life images.  It was a fermented, polemic, sometimes obscene blog.  (Blogger tried to block photos of naked people but in the face of uproar from users, backed off to requiring that they be labeled “adult.”  I don’t know what is adult about a naked body.  Or why it is more objectionable to show a photo than to write a description.)

By now I just write these daily posts of 1,000 words or so.  Sometimes they are true “blogs,” (b-logs) that include lots of links to other blogs or vooks.  (Like the one yesterday linking to Grant Slater’s eloquent work.)  The truth is that it’s quite like presenting a spoken essay (sermon) every Sunday except that in my worldview, every day is Sunday.  And I can’t see your faces reacting.  This is what I wanted to do and what I love doing.  It is very hard to explain, partly because most people have such a narrow understanding of religion, one that I’ve worked hard in seminary to escape, thinking that churches would want that.  It was a hard blow to realize they did not.

In some ways what I’m doing is evading all institutions.  The exchange is accepting near-poverty (I’m just above the line because I own this house, which is a vulnerability as much as a protection.) but doing something that isn’t prevented by aging.  I can’t get the lid off an aspirin bottle, but I can out-think most neo-atheists, mostly because I’ve abandoned their categories altogether, on grounds that their paradigms are old, moldy and destructive.  I’m not the only one thinking this way.  (If you’re interested, see Yuval Noah Harari’s companion books:  “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” and “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.”  They are best-selling books, accessible and based on the paradigm-breaking work of science.  That sounds pretentious but they are easy to read.)

Sapiens” asserts that “Three important revolutions shaped the course of history: the Cognitive Revolution kick-started history about 70,000 years ago.  The Agricultural Revolution sped it up about 12,000 years ago.  The Scientific Revolution, which got underway only 500 years ago, may well end history and start something completely different.”  I take that to mean the cyber-revolution which may make “Borgs” of us all.  

He does not talk about the Industrial Revolution which may tucker out when the organic combustibles (coal and oil) are exhausted, but maybe not if we can get to wind and sun.  Around here, people are poised somewhere between ag and industry.  You might call it “tractor culture.”

There’s another way to look at stages of thought, which are individual stages:  basic infancy to 5 or 6, childhood from then until the onset of puberty, the years of sexual maturation, and then another turn of mind that is based in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain but supported by the whole body from the gut to the skin.  This is where the humanities are born, the weaving symbolism of existence.

Because my first job was teaching in high school here, it’s easy for me to see that high school — which is a fairly recent development in education and meant to prepare for working life — is no longer doing what it’s supposed to, but that small towns in rural areas are still playing by high school rules, supported by a media that isn’t even that mature.  In fact, it looks as though our highest levels of government representatives have never had basic civics education that would have been provided by an old-fashioned citizen-preparing high school.

When brains evolve —EVERYTHING evolves — the tissues must struggle against the confines of the skull.  The prefrontal cortex somehow managed to push that bony wall out to make room for itself, but generally the brain has condensed.  There are hominin skulls that are much bigger in terms of capacity — they just don’t have pre-frontal cortexes.  It appears that the most recent evolutions of the brain have been internal to cells, a particular kind of cell that allows us to share in a secondary way the movements and emotions of another human being: when we watch the dance, our muscles faintly echo.  Some see this evolving right now.  Another evolution is quite different: the ability to think in abstracts, to imagine what is not present.  This is math.  Grad school stuff.

A sad part of evolution is that it evolves in mosaic patterns, so that one set of people might unfold into the full range of human possibility but another might hit limits, let’s say about high school graduation.  One population thinks in terms of concrete experience and the categories they already know.  Another might soar off into the thin air of physics and quantum theory.  The two groups will not understand or even like each other.  What could I say to that archetypal starving Somali woman carrying her dying baby that she could even hear, that wouldn’t terrify her to know about.  The fact that people elsewhere can control fertility, demand clean water (with mixed results), vaccinate against disease, and start riots would mean nothing.

But then when I talk to locals here about global warming— even reframed as climate change — or about Trump, I get about the same result, even though the wall of suffering that separates me from a Somali woman is mostly not apparent.  And here I am, as so often in these blogs, off in the weeds.  I need all my energy to think about the weeds and the paths.  I do not want to waste energy arguing with editors who tell me what won’t sell, nor do I want to obey all the techie demands, though they are in a position to force me to use new petty little features.  I’m not even very appreciative of reader comments.

My friend often uses the image of someone hooded, grasping a staff and traveling the wilderness.  I’m more like the Neanderthal cave inhabitant who crouches in the entrance, scowling at the river below and trying with every bit of energy to grow a pre-frontal cortex above my eyes.

Monday, March 27, 2017


Title shot: a film essay

Grant Slater ( and I share an alma mater, Northwestern University.  More accurately he shares Ivan Doig’s alma mater, since he is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, as was Doig.  I was in what was then called the “School of Speech,” now called “Communication Studies” and quite different than it was.

Slater calls himself a “moving image maker” and that’s exactly right.  Behind his photography is always a story that is moving, not because it is video, but because it is so deeply emotional, down in the gut where we used to try to reach as actors.  So this blog post will “quote” a lot by giving you links.  It will be what we used to try to define as a “vook,” meaning a book that moved across media to include image, interview, music, and thought.  Some are meant to be marketing persuasion, which is somewhat stigmatized, so I’ll start there.  Here’s a nice piece for VISA.  You see how appealing it is?  

Here’s the second Slater vid I saw — I only found him this morning — and this one is marketing FEAR.  It’s about Trump, but more than that.  The title is SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS.  The epigram is “Tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy […] the greatest and most savage slavery out of the extreme of freedom.” From Plato’s The Republic.”  

I’m reluctant to post the link because I’m AFRAID some people are going to love this and repeat it a lot.  They will not see it as an advertisement meant to make it easier to drive us into obedience to tyrants, but rather as an advertisement for BECOMING a tyrant, even if only in drinking establishments among “friends.”  Or at home with women and children one can tyrannize.  Maybe it’s safer to provide this link now that Trump has proven what a lying fantasist he is.  But this is almost Leni Resinthenthal, famous as Hitler’s cinematographer who made Olympic Competitors into soaring supermen.

My other fear is that good people will be so afraid of these images that they will try to suppress them so they don’t have to think about them.  We’ve got to have the guts to really look.

Now here’s the link to Slater’s antidote, which is how I came to his work today because picked it up for the day’s set of essays.  I skip a lot of the print essays, but I always watch the short vids.  They never disappoint.  This one is relevant to prairie life, far to the north, where Bob and I once went moose hunting and where my father’s family pioneered for a while.

It’s about global warming, the thawing of the permafrost, in this case in Siberia, but the same phenomenon is happening here in Canadian territory.  The scientist who wants to bring back the woolly mammoth is a visionary.  We are more likely to send out elephants in sweaters, but at Harvard they’re working on reverse engineering elephant genes.  Since there are mammoth carcasses that were flash-frozen with browsed buttercups still in their mouths, the genes of mammoths are at hand.  But this man and his son are not waiting — they’re putting the original beasts: wild horses, musk oxen, caribou, back on the land.  Since these beasts are being crowded out of their habitat in North America, it’s only a transportation problem.  So far no grizzlies, but if we’re sending them to zoos, this might be an excellent alternative.

At a long ago conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment ( in Banff, there was a woman called “Barney” whose proper name has escaped my aging brain.  The premise of her talk was that sustainable prairie requires a balance between something like an elephant to knock down trees and something bovine to graze back brush.  The men in the permafrost project are imitating the elephant by smashing trees back mechanically, which is why they want mammoths back.  

They say that when the cities have been bombed to radioactive rubble by the Tyrants, since the glamour and power of humans have been conveniently gathered into targets, what will be left will be grass.  They say that the land around the Hanford Reactor in Washington State is radioactive but that the small animals — the squirrels and foxes — have adapted much better than they did to human doings.  Same in Russia and Japan where radioactivity accidents cleared out the people.

Now I’m going to shut up with the print chatter so there is time left for you to explore Slater’s work.  This long sequence he calls “longtelegram.

You can also find his work at

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Oliver Sacks in early years

Oliver Sacks is one of my most beloved writers and certainly not mine alone.  Many love his books and did even before Robin Williams impersonated him in order to tell an early part of his story.  As more unfolded, we gaped at the photo of him on his motorcycle, looking very leather, and then again gasped at his exploits as a lifelong power swimmer.  Thus I was pleased to discover this lyrical, loving account of his most recent years before death.  He had not had a partner before Hayes and he needed one, as much to explain the world to him as to embrace him, which Hayes must have done both delicately and firmly.

Then I read a story about Bannon in VICE.  My Safari has suddenly gone prudish and refuses to open VICE (among other venues it disapproves of — their checks must have bounced), but I went to Foxfire.  It was worth it as John Saward’s corruscating analysis of Mr. Dark is both entertaining and valid.  Somehow one ends up sort of sympathetic with this resentful, vengeful man, but watch out when googling for Saward because there’s another author by that name who is pastoral, a married man with three daughters who got a special dispensation to become a Catholic priest, which is not granted to anyone like Bannon — nor probably not like the Saward who was published in VICE either.

The next item that popped up on my feed was from Truthfinder, a data base scraper that promises to tell you the real facts about your friends and neighbors and to find long-lost people in your life.  So I entered myself.  It consists entirely of legal records of offenses: arrests, defaults, demographic facts, divorce and marriage.  As you ask about your subject, the website records your own “facts” but provides no way to make corrections.  I’ll say right off the top that I have never used the pseudonym “Skrivner” and Scriver is my married name anyway.  

Yesterday I went to Cut Bank to do the laundry (write that down) and Carl Old Person was there to wash his car.  “Miss Strachan!” he exclaimed, surprised to see me.  He pronounced my maiden name properly.  He was in the Browning High School English classes I taught in the early Sixties, and I haven’t seen him since, but evidently I haven’t changed that much.  You would not find this information on Truthfinder, though the moment would tell you a lot more about me.  

I didn’t pay money to see what my crimes were.  There are two very old ones that might show up, but only one would be in Montana.  Both were speeding: five miles or so over the limit, both on gorgeous Sunday mornings with no traffic on my way to preach.  (Truthfinder doesn’t know that.)  There are no records in Truthfinder about my career as a sheriff’s deputy with the specialty of animal cases ranging from scraping up squashed pets to cautioning a motorcycle gang to stop chaining dobermans to their parked bikes.  I never did get a case of someone using a dog as a deadly weapon, but such cases exist.  I did get rabies shots.  None of this is in Truthfinder.

Nor am I anxious to be found by people I offended in those days in uniform.  I had guns pointed at me twice, but no actual shots.  Also one of the dark sides of the ministry is that people tend to project all sorts of things onto you, esp. if you’re female.  They range from the “Whore of Babylon” to “Mom”.  My years in the ministry do not show up on Truthfinder, nor do my academic degrees.  The most incendiary days of my life, shared with Bob Scriver as Blackfeet ceremonialists, brought me a recent raving comment on my blog, which I deleted unposted.  It was anonymous and evidently a reaction to a paper posted on Researchgate, an open academic online journal.  It did not use Blackfeet terms.

If you really want “truth”, I urge you to buy “Bronze Inside and Out,’ which is my biography/memoir of Bob Scriver.  One local reader was surprised that it had so much about me in it.  They don’t think women or authors really exist, I guess.  I should put them in touch with the local person who said, “I don’t know what you taught these kids, Mary, but they won’t forget you.”  Carl didn’t.

But the most obvious source of info about me is my blog:  “”  I could never hope to have anyone write about me with the love Bill Hayes shows for Oliver Sacks, but anyway few people are as extraordinary as Sacks.  On the other hand, I have known — still know — people nearly that remarkable and love them intensely.  They don’t show up on Truthfinder, partly because some are indigenous and the website doesn’t compile reservation records — nor reserve records for that matter.  (Reserves are Canadian reservations and some of these people are Canadian.)  Some of my beloveds don’t commit traffic offences or anything else a web-crawler would pick up.

Ten years of daily thousand-word posts like these will tell you more about me that you probably would ever want to know, but you’re on your own when it comes figuring out the Truth in them.  Some of them are plainly labeled fiction, because I post short stories.  (Never poetry — I stash that unpublished.)  But I may have misremembered, may have plumb forgotten some of the story, might have written something that another witness would flatly contradict.  There’s a lot of controversy right now about what’s actually True anyway.

Recently I watched a remarkable film called “Match,” which is a story that reflects the consequences of getting DNA matches to discover relationships.  The idea is that Patrick Stewart (in QUITE a different role from StarTrek) is an old ballet teacher (very convincing, though he doesn’t dance) who is visited by a man and his wife because they think he is the father of the man from an encounter in youth that prevented the deceased mother of the man from having a career in dance.  The story goes along through reversals that change everything.  

In the process the real truthful moment is a short tour de force pas de deux between the old man and the wife, in which Stewart explains that knitting (which he does) and cunnilingus are similar.  (Don’t try to google this on Safari.)  It’s not the subject, but the open understanding between two dissimilar people that is quite wonderful.  A “Truth,” one might say, in an ultimate sense.

In these times, so much a fulfillment of Bannon’s vision of the world, one feels truth fleeing away from us.  But then while doing some mundane task, someone walks in the door and hands you a true moment from the past without so much as demanding a credit card.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Wide Trump with Tall Comey

In the Sixties one of the people who often dropped in at Scriver Studio to gossip and take a little break from selling or inspecting or advising — whatever — there was a big man with a booming voice who loved to break up the monotony of his sales route by coming into a business where he wasn’t known and demanding,  “Who here called for the FBI?”  People immediately assumed he WAS the FBI and hurried around to help him.  He said he could even demand to see their financial books and they would comply, intimidated and probably guilty of something.

By the time Wounded Knee II rolled around in 1973, I was leaving the rez.  By then the image of the FBI was something like Mormon missionary teams, “suits” with shined shoes and stony faces.  They were scary and not on the side of the People.  Even Bob, who disliked authority figures of all kinds, had a tendency to turn to them for information and help in this paranoid time, and they loved to fan the flames, literally.  When some years later the shop was on fire in the night, they assured him it was AIM (the American Indian Movement) who were the arsonists.  It turned out that the cause was fumes from the underground gas tank belonging to an abandoned service station on the block, accumulated through broken sewer pipes into the dark room of the studio and ignited by the water heater.  But the fumes of paranoia were worse.  Bob never recovered.

It’s realistic to say that today’s FBI director, James Comey, is head and shoulders above others.  He is resolute and careful enough to begin to erase the image of J.Edgar Hoover in a red ruffled party dress, calling himself “Mary.”  He is righteous about the persecution of MLK, Jr.  and young enough to be my son.  (He was born in 1960, when I was at NU, earning a BS.).  In 1982, he was just about to enroll at the U of Chicago Law School where I was transcribing professor’s materials, using very early computer “stations” with a big industrial hard drive some mysterious place.  Few professors could operate their own work stations, and we were told to ignore the sounds of “Asteroids” coming from offices, because it was the way they learned to use computer programs.  The internet was not known.

I didn’t know Comey, but I knew some of his professors.  Scalia was still there and sometimes I delivered his mail, but I never transcribed his writing.  Sometimes big handsome men would appear from some outfit like the Rand Corporation and demand help.  Everyone was very conscious of their own importance.  I never met anyone there who knew anything about “Indians.” nor who ever said anything about Wounded Knee II.  In fact, I never met an anthropologist on the U of C campus, not even Victor Turner.

What I’m getting at is that the suits we’re watching on the news are so important that they only deal with other suits.  That means they are ignoring the big picture, the back country, the exceptions and exemptions, the sorrow and the suffering.  These people are from a writing culture, guided by documents.  The exception in the example of the crisis of the moment is that Trump is an oral culture guy, a face-to-face guy.  He plays to the audience.  

The composite accumulations of video moments have impressed me greatly, particularly the one of Trump’s handshakes with people of all kinds.  He pushes them back, he yanks them forward, he squeezes, he evades, he ignores, he pats.  So far the only exception is Trudeau who took Trump firmly by his handshake arm.

It’s enough to make a person want to back off to give a dignified bow or maybe hold up a hand like a movie “Indian” or like Keith Olbermann, Trump’s pursuer on Twitter.  Trump wouldn’t know an “Indian” if he sat on an arrow and he would be easy to scalp: a good yank ought to do it.  But it wouldn’t be much of a decoration on a warshirt.  His own suits flap in the breeze, partly because he’s gaining weight and partly because he feels the heat in that bulky body.

I’m mocking, I’m undignified, I’m using my own life path to claim something, and I’m just sort of heartsick about the whole mess.  It’s all blackened pots and kettles, but no stainless steel.  Unless Comey comes through.  He might.  If he manages this with as much grace and grit as he has shown so far, that will be a beginning in changing a culture of the FBI that’s based on bravado and old movies, the urban pursuit of immigrant gangsters.

Maybe he’ll be able to begin turning things around on reservations where the FBI has jurisdiction over what used to be the “ten major crimes” with murder at the top of the list.  Praiseworthy attempts have been made to bring the duties up to date from what originated as U.S. Cavalry attempts to keep order among a “foreign” conquered people.  Today the reservations struggle to maintain both casinos and colleges and to resist drugs, which often originate in Mexico with “Indios” who can “pass” on a rez.

Arguably much worse, somehow the mostly male suits of the FBI seem blind to the murders of indigenous women and children by outsiders, particularly when the tribal people are off the reservation and possibly trafficked.  The white culture, especially on the super-conservative mad-dog red-neck end, has the idea that “squaws” and “bucks” are fair game, something like “slopes” and “ragheads.”  These lowlifes are such a slimeball faction of the country that one can hardly bear to think about them.  The FBI’s response seems to have been pulling away.  The main office that used to be in Butte is now in Denver.

The legit media is mostly just unaware and baffled.  Sensational media actively feeds on this stuff.  Respectable middle-class tribal people don’t know what to do, but their children watch the vids, play the games, get the ideas into their systems.  This is subversive.

It’s WORSE in Russia, but not different in kind and dynamics.  It has risen like an oil spill tide until it has come up the Potomac, up the shores of Manhattan, into all our lives.  Even tall Comey will be overwhelmed unless the citizens of all kinds get behind him.  Without the bluster and fakery of Trump the salesman.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Holy Family Mission Churchyard

Clifford Repair has made my pickiup safe again, replacing all hoses and installing new spark plugs.  There are still things that need to be done, but this is the “big bite.”  Throwing caution to the winds, I set out for Browning to donate a box of books to the Blackfeet Community College library.

Wind was right.  When Great Falls says “breezy,” that means just outside Browning there is a big roadside sign that flashes “extreme danger for high profile vehicles.”  I had already noted the high “storm shelf” of clouds rearing up behind the Rockies, which always means wind and precip.  It’s Pacific air off the ocean, traveling on the jet stream, climbing over the mountains, then dropping on us.

The prairie up that way is still pied with snow patches.  We’re beginning to get little tints of green down here on the “flats.”  Otherwise, the prairie is not pretty — dun and done with winter.  Aren’t we all.

What I hadn’t considered was the date:  this is spring break.  The BCC campus was locked up tight — not a soul anywhere, no vehicles except the ones that belong to the school, not even a dog wandering around.  The Town Pump, on the other hand, was crammed.  It was just before lunch and customers were shouldering past employees to get lunch food put out and bought.  I went on down to Faughts where there were three older clerks and one three-year-old female speed demon using the empty aisles for a race track.  She was winning.

What I wanted was ribbon, but they only carry beads.  Well, along with a lot of interesting stuff: CD’s, books, Pendleton blankets, and so forth.  They directed me on up the highway to a fabric shop which also quilts with a machine.  I found what I wanted and visited for a few minutes.  She belonged to the Spotted Eagle family, but I didn’t know her branch.  She knew who I was, but we hadn’t met before.

It’s hard to convey my roiling sorrowing feeling when I pass the little studio house I helped to build with Bob Scriver.  The big plateglass window is busted now in spite of the roll-down steel cover that used to be lowered over it.  A big window like that is broken as soon as it’s installed — you just try to get as much interval as you can before it’s smashed.  This time, decades.  Barely longer than Bob’s active sculpture career.  

At the Cuts Wood School, the kids were on the playground, running and yelling and throwing a ball.  Next door is the house where T.E. Scriver brought his bride from Quebec, still in use.  Across the street is the rental where Bob lived when I met him and two doors over is where his fourth wife was living then with a different husband.  The Browning Mercantile is long gone, building and all.  On every street are buildings re-purposed, buildings newly created, and empty lots where the ghosts of buildings persist for those of us who are old enough to remember.

On the way I passed two highway death memorials.  One has been there for a long time: it’s made of welded-together horseshoes and this time, along with the usual plastic flowers, there were freshly tied ribbons — no, blood red wide streamers of some kind, writhing violently in the high wind..  The other one was wooden with flowers and some other decoration I couldn’t decipher as I drove.  The state has stopped putting up the metal white crosses because they interfere with roadside maintenance.  

The prairie, esp. in these transition times, is a long complex of intersecting curves, hard to decipher if one has no history here and has no sense of the ten thousand year ago melt of the great North American glaciers.  It is a dissociation, a floating monotony, a nagual.  Stegner used to say there was no need to fall on your knees with awe at this open, vast, scraped world because you were already small enough.  Of course, you might get blown over.

But if you are around for a while, you begin to write a history on this space.  Then it is wiped away, flooded, worn off, built over.  I met a little band of horses, half-a dozen assorted four-leggeds.  Sid Gustafson would say they know three things:  travel along, graze, and stick together.  In this instance, add stay out of the wind.  In the process, they were crossing the road, a risk, an asphalt interrupting overlay of the prairie created by time.

I’ve been reading about the epigenome, the over-writing of the genome by events that “methylate” or mute the influence of individual genes with consequences that can persist for several generations.  Body development and regulation is subtly changed in detectable ways.  Much of the research has been in terms of the Jewish holocaust victims, but is now beginning to extend to indigenous populations.  Persecution has sent Jews scattering over the planet and since they were — in their concentrated form — highly educated, intensely connected, still in touch with their original oldest-son-of-Abraham destiny — they never stop asking.

Often they ally with survivors of the American holocaust triggered by European invaders carrying disease and relentless greed.  Thus, we are just beginning to figure out that the third generations (maybe more) of trauma caused by confinement, starvation, and stigma, create specific tiny physical changes that can either make them victims or can be made into innovations.  But Jewish people are almost always urban.  American indigenous people can be urban, but I don’t know about that.  I know about the ones who stayed on the prairie.  (That is, those who were prairie people in the first place — not the corn growers or fish catchers.)  Something is beginning here.

A cross with red banners dancing in the wind is a Methodist symbol.  It’s a reference to the Pentecost when witnesses were unified by the power of the Holy Spirit and saw "tongues, as of fire" in Acts 2:3.  “The Cross and Flame was birthed following the formation of the United Methodist Church by the union of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1968.”  Christians are always dancing around crossed sticks and thinking about burning at the stake.  They want to mark deaths.  I consider it another European intrusion into an indigenous world that was about creatures and skies.  But what do tongues mean?  More than words, I think.

So — Kenner’s Question:  “What does it mean?”  Just drive on — against the wind.  Careful.  It’s grizzly country now.


The real Donald Trump is much fatter.

Can’t sleep after the onslaught of today’s news revelations.  I’m not thinking “House of Cards” so much as “Game of Thrones” so let me put on my George RR Martin hat and spread this out on paper to get it out of my head.

What could possibly cause Nunes, who seemed sane a few days ago, to take intel directly to Trump, knowing that everyone would know he did and, indeed, then announcing it formally?  A threat of assassination.  A contract on Trump’s life.  Could be domestic or foreign.  The fence jumper a few days ago made it to the front door.  What if it were going to be a military-type attack:  a missile, a predator drone, or the like?

If it were foreign — who knows what could justify elimination by Russia?  They just demonstrated another method (defenestration) and they don’t need much of an excuse.  Surely Trump has been hoarding a few little secrets of his own, but then, he’s becoming less and less useful — too nutty, out of control.  We know what provoking N. Korea could do.  Wouldn’t the death of the president or even an attempted murder be enough to precipitate us into war?  Wouldn’t it, in fact, be a declaration of war on the USA?

If this were something that were real, Trump would probably be held in the deep secure bunker to protect him until he could be safely flown out of the country.  He could have already videotaped a resignation from the presidency in exchange for help in escaping.  If he is killed after he has resigned, it will not be an assassination of the president anymore.  The vid could be held, not shown until he’s gone.  He may be in the air right now, clutching his toothbrush and toupee paste.  Remember that it’s suspected that a missile brought down an airliner just off the East Coast a few years ago.

Or let’s look at another wild possibility.  When Trump is thwarted, he goes into a cork-popping rage.  It’s pretty clear tonight that his insurance plan is not likely to succeed.  What if he’s had a major brain event?  What if he’s truly demented in a mental hospital ICU right now?  What if the real reason Ivanka has an office in the White House is so she’ll be there as his legal guardian when the strait-jacket folks come.  They say she can calm him when no one else can.  Let’s hope she doesn’t have scruples about endorsing a Do Not Resuscitate order.

Some movie thriller writers might have made this intercepted intel about Ivanka, a threat against her, but I don’t think Russians, Chinese or Koreans think she or any woman is important.

Normally, when a bill looks as though it is doomed, the deadline is moved out ahead so that either persuasion might succeed or the whole issue can be allowed to die quietly.  But the insurance bill is scheduled to be voted on at 7PM tomorrow, regardless of prospects.   It will keep the Republicans occupied and present.  There’s talk about the Dems just leaving en masse.  But we might be surprised by the vote, the way we were surprised by the election.  After the vote tomorrow would be an excellent time to play a resignation tape, assuming it existed.  The news explosion would cover the embarrassment over insurance, whichever way it goes.

If Trump were flying out to some secret island, a news landslide might keep the reporters from scouring the flight schedules to find the island — at least for a while.  On the other hand, he might be dead already.  Ivanka may be asked to help plan a funeral.  Maybe Melania won't be that interested.

This is all preposterous and over dramatic.  Or is it?