Westward Ho

Exhibit at the Lakota Museum                         Antelope Grazing

Started out this morning in Sioux Falls, ready to head west across South Dakota. Reading Listening to Your Life by Frederick Buechner, to our group stirred up a great conversation. Buechner writes about the “in between times” in our lives. The Druids are said to have believed that in things “in between” one can glimpse the mystery of two worlds at once. Buechner uses adolescence as the illustration of that in between time…neither grown up nor child.

Our social science / history major, Debbie, pointed out that the United States is in an in between time. We are in transition from industrial to postindustrial. The challenges that we face in making this change are enormous. How do we prepare the next generation for jobs when so much of the work may quite possibly be done by robots?

We stopped in Chamberlain, SD to go to the Akta Lakota Museum, which is on the grounds of the St. Joseph Indian School. Exiting the museum and gift shop we entered the Medicine Wheel meditation garden. Like the Navajo,  and probably many other Native Americans, praying to the 4 directions is a part of their spiritual traditions. Standing in the Medicine Wheel garden I was aware of how much this garden with its wheel of prayers is like the labyrinth. Prayers are said facing each of the directions: East, South, North, and West. Like walking the labyrinth, it is a very physical way of praying.

In the gift shop I found a children’s coloring book about the Plains Indians. I bought it so that I can learn more about these Native American tribes and their people. The Lakota Indians are one of the tribes of the Dakota (Sioux). Debbie said that she understood that these tribes did not like being called Sioux because the name means “little snakes”.

From Chamberlain we continued on to the Badlands.  The fields of South Dakota, where the green of soybeans, corn and sorghum was checkerboarded with golden fields of cut wheat or hay were a feast for the eyes.  Gradually these fields became rolling hills of prairie grass with cattle grazing. And then seemingly out of nowhere came the layered rock formations of the Badlands. Towering formations look like sand castles with spires. Deep canyons cut into the rock giving the whole area an otherworldly appearance. It could be called stark except for the beautiful colors of red and rose; yellow and orange. As we drove out on the Badlands Loop Road, we saw prairie dogs popping out of their underground homes and we saw a group of antelope grazing, both groups seemingly unaware of the tourists clicking away to take their pictures!

From a little book called Native American Wisdom (Running Press):

“…everything on the earth has a purpose,

every disease an herb to cure it,

and every person a mission.

This is the Indian theory of existence.”

Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasker) 1888-1936 Salish





One thought on “Westward Ho

  1. Holly bee here – the 4th hardee 🙂 jill shared your blog with me and i am loving it. What an awesome journey y’all are having. It is your salish quote that inspired me to comment. I found it very touching, and appropriate as well – as your destination by land for this part of your journey is the salish sea – the pudget sound. Safe travels. Hugs to all. We are waiting patiently by the salish sea for y’all, and I the meantime following you here. Peace and love – holly


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