Regardless of the strength every metal accumulates stress and reaches a breaking point.
So too does the human mind and body on these rides.
After so many miles fatigue sets in and rest days are essential to be able to go on. I am very lucky to have Family at such a respite spot and the route leaders are kind enough to excuse me from today’s ride, a short 30 miles to Whitefish through non challenging terrain.
I awake on the Flathead Reservation to the sound of birds chirping away as the sun tries to rise above the Mission Mountains to the East. Eventually its rays will light up the hills of the nearby National Bison Range just to the West of St. Ignatius.
Breakfast is home made and delicious…eggs, sausage, coffee, and Snoqualmie Pancakes, the best in the world. Then off for a haircut and a trip to the Elmo Pow Wow, a yearly event drawing in Native Americans from as far away as Canada.
I have no idea what happens at a Pow Wow never having been.
When I arrive there are just a few food vendors and the dancers have not yet arrived but a source of cash is available for those who desire.
I get an Indian Taco and curly fries…wonderful tasting going down but resulting in a stomach feeling lead lined…the taco bread is similar to a large pizza but deep fried then topped with beans, chili, onions, peppers, cheese and spices to desire.
Outside the open pavilion I see the dancers gather and am allowed to photograph some as long as I have no commercial interest in mind.
An announcer calls the crowd to attention and begins with a prayer especially for those family left at home. The flag bearers of the various Tribes are introduced, the drums begin in rhythm and the preliminary Dance of Nations begin.
I am moved by the slow pace and the flags being shown, American, Canadian, mixed with those of the Tribes. There is no sense of exclusion or self righteousness here, rather inclusion with many Tribes as being One.
We would all do well to have those in Washington, in Power to be sitting here…with open minds they might learn something from these Men and Women with Children in tow.
Once around the outdoor floor they stop and we are asked to observe the Native American Anthem. Of course I understand none of the words but as the drums roll on the Reverence is clear.
Eventually all the dancers take to the floor in a large spiral, the women and children coming last but being part of the dance.
Time is running short for me as I must get back to St. Ignatius some 30 miles to the south but we to stop at the Salish Kootenai Veterans War Memorial for those who defending our country have died.
This memorial was designed and carved by a gentleman I met today at the Pow Wow.
As I walk around the sides I can see the massive eagle that protects all with spread wings.
Inside the circle I learn of two In particular who have fallen under the American Flag.
The second you have seen, dear reader, as I have many times, one of the 4 men lifting the Flag at Iwo Jima not so many eons ago.
As I stand and look at the names I again think of what is happening in Washington, with names like Pocahontas being flung in disrespect as a slur to the inheritance at those who have stake…
Those names before me are all Native Americans who have died for this country with pride…pride of their Heritage, Tribes, and Nationality as Citizens of the this Great Land.
I recall the flags at the beginning of the Pow Wow leading to the Dances and know that perhaps better than anyone these Natives know what it is to belong…
They are more American than most of us having been here so long…
Shame on Washington at this particular moment in time…
Across the street from the Memorial is the Salish Kootenai College a work of real pride for this Reservation. Beautiful metal sculptures adorn parts of the Campus Buildings just outside.
As we leave and head home to the south I know that as times progresses this area will do well. The Flathead Lake is lined with luxurious homes and farms, tourism is booming and there is lots of money around. More importantly the Native Americans some 80 years ago signed a contract with the White Men concerning the Flathead Dam. That 80 years is now up…and guess who owns the source of Energy in this booming bustling Montana Valley?
The Native American Indian’s time here may have returned…