BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, USA – We have distracted ourselves lately by writing. That is really what we want to do, write. So today we took a field trip to Sacaton. We visited with people who live on the reservation. We asked them questions about their lives and their perspective on reservation life. We visited the library. We read histories and legend books and scientific research on land development and water resources.
It was an interesting day as we were able to discuss one of the many stories we are working on. We discussed the characters in our story. Learning about reservation life in 2007 is completely different than what I imagined it would be. My frame of reference has been movies like DANCES WITH WOLVES and THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. As a child I loved watching John Wayne movies on Dialing for Dollars. I have always loved the “Cowboy and Indian” movies. Today’s excursion made me realize how those movies tried to capture many cultures and traditions that in most cases don’t even exist anymore and probably never existed then. My romantic notions of Indian life has been altered to reflect the reality of reservation life. They are not the mysterious strong independent people I had imagined. No, it is worse, they are human just like me. They have problems and issues and concerns, just like me.
We appreciated the candor and the honesty of which they spoke to us. Montana Sunrising enlightened us on many aspects of Indian life here and in more obscure locations. The librarians were helpful in locating books of our subject matter. Our minds are working and we are anxious to finish our first screen play. We are also anxious to finish the other 20 stories on our slate.
We returned and shared our experience with our friends and my family. Distractions. Sometimes they benefit us when the alternative is immobility. Sometimes distractions enable us to see more clearly what needs to be done, how to do it and then gathering the strength to just do it. We are clear. We are ready. Our best work is yet to come as we document our experiences and write our stories. The ones who continue to benefit the most, of course, is us.