North Dakota Slow Time

Crazy Cloud/Mother Quilt explore North Dakota "deep time" in the Mothership.  Memory, poetry, family roots connect in a solitary campout in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, NoDak. Images and sounds from North Dakota Historical Center in Bismarck add to dreaming and understanding. 


            0530 hours
            20 October 2015
            Cottonwood Camp
            Theodore Roosevelt National Park
            Little Missouri River
            Medora, North Dakota

The Mothership isn’t exactly the 2-Step,
Crazy Cloud. It’s a Dodge Ram 3500.
Steak tacos and Mexican Rice for dinner.
Museum in the morning before heading West
And maybe a walk at first light, before sunrise.

How it is with Storypath/Cuentocamino.
Shut down everything but the road
For the notebook and discovery within.
The books I carry in my backpack
Blessing the other in all ways. Cameras

as another set of eyes.
Emptying the ears with sage
Coming forth with the invocation of music
Iris DeMent sings the poems of Akhmatova
And the plains will never be the same.

Badlands be ancestral storyline. These
Trackless woods and the on board library.
South of the Corps of Discovery,
We read the winter journals of Meriweather Lewis 
In the wonder of knowing the homecoming story. 

It can be done, except in notebook narratives. Alone here,
Karen and I. The only ones here.
Campground five miles in from Ranger Station.
No hookups. No water. Solar power.
Lewis and Clark winter in Mandan,

1804 turns into 1805. Almost 100 years
Will go by before any will remember.
Roosevelt arrives in 1883 for a buffalo hunt,
Invests in cattle, operates two large ranches.
Maltese Cross and Elkhorn. Buffalo

Almost gone, Roosevelt will create
Five national parks, 51 national bird reservations,
Four national game preserves
And 150 national forests. Earth Lodge People,
Hidatsa,Mandan lived here nomadically

For 500 years. Hidatsa learn about corn
From the Mandan. These two combine
With Arikara Nation to the South.
TheSmall Pox will arrive in 1837.
This is the contact point—the way

It was told to me. The day Death
Came and stayed. In the Mandan
Origin Story:  Lone Man was walking along
And became aware of himself.
The land was new where he was going.

Here on the Little Missouri River.
In 1845, Mandan and Hidatsa move 40 miles
Upriver to form Like-A-Fishhook village.
Arikaras join them in 1862. The government
Forces them to Fort Berthold in 1885.

Today that nation is known as Three Affiliated Tribes.
This is called walking in sagebrush before sunrise.
This is the notebook in the Mothership in song.
My people, conscripts and loose ends from Denmark,

Will migrate north working their way from Bismarck.
The story will be told as a new deal. Lights will come one.
Fracking will come into the vocabulary
And be hailed as creating employment,
Fracturing bedrock using a slurry of sand,

Chemicals and water to extract oil.
Spilled frakking fluids will be mentioned in brochures
as being more dangerous than spilled oil.
Oil is cheaper to collect than natural gas
So they burn off excess gas until a way

To build collection infrastructure I found.
Gas flares in 24-hour facilities light up
The dark skies of North Dakota. Stars are out,
Too. First light from the East.
My God it’s beautiful. Fingertips freezing.

Jim Bodeen
Mothership Log

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