Reconciling family narrative with textbook history in Montana’s Bighorn Valley — High Country News

19 Sep

Cody, Wy was home for my wife and I for a sabbatical year 2002-2003. Mostly, we hung out at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (renamed the Buffalo Bill Center for the West).

Occasionally, though, we went east to the Bighorn River Valley. We were only day visitors, not residents, but we saw enough to see how it was a place to fall in love with.

Writer Joe Wilkins writes about the Bighorn Valley in the latest High Country News.

On the one hand, the historical record, notes Wilkins, is bleak:

The American West is, at its deep heart’s core, a society built on genocide and thievery and sustained by the denial of both.

On the other hand, the stories his grandmother tells of her immigrant Irish family living amidst the Crow people belie the record.

He concludes:

Some 80 years ago, I guess, my great-grandfather and his family were flung like driftwood onto the banks of Mountain Pocket Creek, where they became friends with the Crow who were their neighbors. They shared meals and smoke, they celebrated and mourned, their little daughters ran laughing to the river. This is my grandmother’s story. And despite only a story of a story as evidence — which won’t hold up, not by a long shot, to my professor’s steely gaze — I decide I’ll take it. If this is my myth, so be it. It’s a good one.

Read his full story here:

Reconciling family narrative with textbook history in Montana’s Bighorn Valley — High Country News.

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One Response to “Reconciling family narrative with textbook history in Montana’s Bighorn Valley — High Country News”

  1. Douglas Firth Anderson September 19, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Reblogged this on Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies.

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