Veggie Voyagers

Couple travelled 30 states and 3 Canadian provinces between 7/07 and 5/08 running their 1987 Ford truck on straight veggie oil. The blog continues with a focus on the natural world and energy politics from a personal perspective

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Writing on Stone

We followed a rainbow across the prairie to Writing on Stone Provincial Park. The next day was a gray and chilly, and later, wet day. We went with a Euro-Canadian ranger into the protected archeological zone to view the dreams and history of the “Blackfeet” confederation ancestors who’d camped in and traveled through this country for centuries. As we understand it, young men would seek their visions here, the spirits lived here and advised of the future, and the sandstone hoodoo rocks were also where history was recorded. We saw images from before the coming of the horse and images as recent as 1923 when an elder recorded visiting in a car from a reservation. More than anything else we saw graffiti of modern visitors who thought writing their names and initials over the hoodoos was irresistible.

When asked why the Blackfeet didn’t manage the land themselves, our guide answered that it was because they “lacked the resources.” There isn’t a purposeful cover up of the genocidal policies of Canada and the U.S. to First Nations people because there are always mention of “disappeared” bison, “disease”, “alcohol”, and “treaties,” but there is never anything that would pull the bitter poison of the past (and present) out for a hard look.

After the tour with the small group of Canadians, the rain started in earnest and we set out to do our own walk along a trail winding through the strange landscape. In the morning, when a porcupine drawing in the rock was identified I asked, “Oh, are there porcupines here?” We’d seen many deer and cottontails in the park but it took us completely by surprise when Sasha turned up with her mouth full of quills. Suddenly, it wasn’t just us hiking in the cold rain, it was us down on our knees urgently prying her mouth open to struggle out dozens of quills from her palate, between teeth and gums. We discovered a small dead porcupine lying nearby and she must have embraced its body into her mouth on finding it. Amazingly, once we’d finished extracting the last few quills with Michael’s “leatherman” pliers, Sasha acted as good as new, as though nothing had ever happened.

We toweled her off, showered in the campground, and drove in the dusk to difficult-to- find Heninger Reservoir, where, today, Michael is processing veggie oil for our trip across the border at Wildhorse. Being here I wonder what life is like for the farmers who live in such desolate places, especially when they are sick or disabled or impoverished by circumstances. It seems like, if you weren’t kept busy by work and routines, it might be a very hard place to live.

Lastly, it was good to see a flyer back in Cardston, the last town before the weather and prairie started in earnest, for International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day activities on 9/9. I felt connected to a community that circles the globe with concern. Greetings.


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