The sun was setting over the lake. Shades of yellow, pink and blue reflected from sky to water. Mountains loom behind us seemingly asking what we are doing here. Here. Here in their vast wildness. Here is the reality of past and present.
After 12 hours in the car with five people packed like sardines, we arrived in Polson, Montana. Flathead Lake stretched before us reflecting the sun waiting to set. Shades of pink, yellow and blue scattered across the water. The air is fresher, the water deep and wonderful, the mountains hiding mountain lions, black and grizzly bears, moose and deer. A zoo wild in its own habitats.
It was dusk when we arrived at the reservation. Tiny houses and trailers dotted the streets and fields. In 1970, I had been on a reservation in Arizona. This same scene greeted me way back then. The poverty and culture of a nation still trying to make a home on land they did not choose. Tears stung my eyes. I could not turn away nor get my thoughts around all this beauty and what was done to the people who our country belongs to and who in turn belong to it. Freedom was not theirs. And, for a few days, I will mourn their loss even more than usual.
My niece Jobi is of the Flathead tribe; therefore, she owns this piece of land overlooking the lake. Her children cannot inherit this home once she is gone unless they marry into the tribe. I get it. And, for this family, every moment here is priceless. Jobi left Montana when she was three. My sister and her husband adopted her and moved her to Indiana with them. We all fell in love instantly with this beautiful girl. Yet over the years, her voice has yearned to answer the call of her homeland.
This is all quite timely. I just finished sending my DNA in to check my lineage. For all the years we were told we had Native American blood, I find that indeed I have none. So I really am an immigrant. I am mostly French/German, Swiss and British/Irish. I am more than a half breed. I am a breed so diluted that there are no numbers to cover the genes that have feed into my little pool of DNA.
Birds are singing. The scat from a black bear was found in the yard this morning. My niece faced off with a mountain lion in their driveway some time ago. Eagles perch in their trees and the earth is alive with bird song. Hm. These animals, too, are native to this land. Yes, I am the intruder.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.