Wednesday, January 9, 2013

the manufactured landscapes

The National Weather Service In Rapid City Has Issued A Winter Storm Watch...Which Is In Effect From Late Thursday Night Through Late Friday Night.

• Timing...Snow Will Develop Early Friday And Continue Through Friday Night. The Snow May Become Heavy.

• Main Hazard...Heavy Snow In Excess Of 6 Inches Is Possible By Saturday Morning.

• Other Conditions...Gusty Northwest Winds From 20 To 30 Mph Will Cause Blowing Snow And Greatly Reduced Visibilities. Bitterly Cold Air Combined With The Wind Will Cause Wind Chills To Drop To 10 Below To 25 Below Zero Friday Night.

Oh my. 25 below zero. (That's -32 Celsius for you Celsius fans.)
Should I worry that they capitalized Every Word? (snark)

Snark aside --guess we better get ready, make sure everyone is informed and ready. And six inches of snow is not the problem --it's the cold and windiness and the drifts that will wreak havoc. And that kind of wind and cold is likely to cause power shortages....

(!!How exciting!!!!)

And --we are supposed to have a Mission Council meeting on Saturday --guess we better delay the start until the afternoon.... No, to be smart, we will cancel.

I love it when mother nature interferes with our plans, our designs --makes us pay attention to those things which are wild. Those things set in motion through the stars and polar magnetism and the weight of the oceans on the skin of the planet. Who can tell where the wind comes from or where it goes?

The big events capture our attention --But what about the smaller everyday events? --like the color of a flower, or the light of day against the snow? Or the way our shadow casts against the moon... and how the moon pulls against the waters....

How can anyone not be in wonder and awe? All the time?

How can anyone believe our designs manifest anything but power and control? As I was out and about this week, I was fascinated to think again of the layout of the town --the fabricated landscape which is a procession --and as with any procession, we can read it, and read relationships.

The town is laid out north/south off the east/west highway --all that is along the highway are the gas stations, car stores, one tourist stop, a bank, the Tribal hotel and the pow wow grounds --but the pow wow grounds are really more in relationship to the rodeo grounds, which came first. Eagle Butte was established in 1910 when the Federal government broke the treaties it had established, and opened up the Reservation to homesteaders. The railroad established towns every 50 miles or so --Eagle Butte being one of them. So, it was a white town with white jurisdiction separate from the Tribe in the middle of the Reservation. The cowboys built a rodeo grounds first....

When, in 1950, the Army Corp of Engineers built the Oahe Dam to save the white farmers from flooding downstream, they flooded out the centuries-old Lakota settlements along the Missouri River --settlements which had turned to villages, schools, hospitals, cemeteries --all of life....

So, the Feds, after 'buying' out the landowners at 1/10 what they gave the white landowners on the other side of the River, and flooding out those who only reluctantly sold, moved the Lakota up to Eagle Butte --laid out streets according to the 1950 city planning ethos, and built "rehabilitation" housing for the "Indians". They built a new Tribal Headquarters, a new Bureau of Indian Affairs building, a new hospital and clinic... a new school and housing for the BIA and Federal employees.

These buildings anchor one end of the Main Street which runs north/south off the east/west highway. The Eagle Butte town buildings --city hall, the community center, the post office all anchor the other end of Main Street. Two competing centers of power, each with a jurisdiction that cannot touch the other --two competing poles --two suns, two moons --two winds that blow fiercely in different directions....

And the Episcopal church --as in many, many other towns and cities across this nation, sits opposite the seats of power --in this case the Tribal and Federal buildings, and next to the old hospital.

Yes, the old hospital. After 15 years of negotiating because of the asbestos in the building --the Feds finally built a new hospital. Yes --as part of the treaty rights, Indian Health Services provides medical care for all Native Americans --and just last year the new hospital opened --a brand new facility a mile out of town, along with its new housing for hospital workers only --in a gated community south of the hospital.

The "rehabilitation" housing is now in need of rehabilitation --if not destruction. They are little two-room cottages of about 600 square feet, almost like a FEMA trailer, except now 70 years old. How they expected/expect families to live in them is beyond me. They dot the neighborhood behind me. They are worse than the God-awful trailers that line some streets. The Tribal housing gets rough and tumble living, but they get new paint and interiors every so often.

The cream of the crop housing is the BIA housing on the other side of Main Street. Big houses (two and three bedroom) with basements --like ours. There are two houses on the church property here --a cement-block home directly behind the church --and ours which stands further behind the church. Our house is covered in aluminum siding. The paint of the siding has turned frosty (for lack of a better word) --when you brush up against it or touch it, the paint comes off on your finger tips.... The main entry is the back door.

And, half of the world walks here --and the other half drives. What these two halves see and how the landscape is perceived is so very different.... When we first moved here, I tried walking to the store and post office --but the sidewalks become icy, so it is necessary to walk in the street, and that is dangerous. The white people must obey the 20mph speed limit --but because of the jurisdictional overlaps, the Lakota don't have to obey the 20mph speed limit in town.... Just like when I drive out on the Reservation, the Tribal Police can only give me a warning, but they can give enrolled members tickets....

Different landscapes. Entirely different landscapes. Different jurisdictions.

But, I can be certain of one thing --we will all feel the effects of the coming storm. The storm will have no care of jurisdiction, City, Tribal, BIA, IHS, --of seats of power, of gated hospital community, rehab housing, trailer....

We will all be in it, together.
And, in the end, that is the only reality worth paying attention to....

At prayer this morning (Canticle 11: The Third Song of Isaiah Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19)

Arise, shine, for your light has come, *
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.

For behold, darkness covers the land; *
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.

But over you the Lord will rise, *
and his glory will appear upon you.

Nations will stream to your light, *
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.

Your gates will always be open; *
by day or night they will never be shut.

They will call you, The City of the Lord, *
The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Violence will no more be heard in your land, *
ruin or destruction within your borders.

You will call your walls, Salvation, *
and all your portals, Praise.

The sun will no more be your light by day; *
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.

The Lord will be your everlasting light, *
and your God will be your glory.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

A new city --a new light --a new landscape --the gates always open --yeppa....

Perhaps the storm will remind us all of that....
Lord, have mercy.


Alyce said...

Does anyone else wonder why it's MOTHER nature? Just sayin'.

Stay warm.

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