Saturday, March 26, 2016


Sid Gustafton, who is from the high-achieving family of Rib Gustafson, is known around here as a veterinarian like his father and brother, except that he has a specialty practice in race horses.  He teaches equine behavior, and posts on Twitter.  In addition, he writes both nonfiction and novels, often based on truth, like “Swift Dam,” just published.  The link above is to a website called “Scriggler” where you can read his story called “Smallpox.”  He often expands such stories into whole novels.  Lately he has been recording short stories on Sound Cloud, something I would like to do but never get around to actually doing.  

“Swift Dam” is about the 1964 catastrophic dam collapse on Birch Creek and the lethal consequences, changing lives and the land right up until now.  I was here at the time.

The year 1914 is the year Bob Scriver was born, and those who knew him will realize that he is sort of the inspiration for the character called Stuf.  Sid knew him mostly by stopping as a kid with his father at the Scriver Studio and taxidermy shop in the Sixties.  Raised on the Blackfeet reservation and often spending the summer cowboying with someone like Billy Big Springs Sr., Sid has more ties to the rez land and families than Jimmy Welsh. Jr. did, though no one would dare say so.  Every spring Sid goes up to the grave of James Willard Schultz, which is near the Gustafson ranch on Two Medicine, and does a little maintenance.  Schultz was a white man who married a Native American and longed to be NA.  His versions of their lives were sometimes a bit more dramatic than real, which is not an advantage in this prudish just-the-facts culture.

Sid is more romantic than I am but quite truthful once you allow for that.  “His” bears do things that “my” bears would not.  He’s inclined to mysticism and always searching for true love, but very much anchored in practical how-to.  Bob Scriver would have loved these stories.  It’s good to be near Sid some of the year and via the Internet.   More books, photos, ideas.

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