Sitting Bull and Sakakawea

Sakakawea Monument near Mobridge, South Dakota

The monuments for Sakakawea and Sitting Bull stand on a bluff overlooking the upper reaches of Lake Oahe and the town of Mobridge across the water. As I arrived, a storm hovered overhead and threatened rain, the swirling sky providing the perfect background for this place. This land was once the home of many tribes of Native Americans, including Sitting Bull's Lakota Sioux. Now it is fenced off with barbed wire that divides the land into large ranches and warns against trespassing.

I find the so-called reservations, in this case the home of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, to be among the most depressing places to visit in this country. No matter how majestic the land, no matter how proud the history of the people, the reservation reduces it to a sad narrative of how badly they were mistreated and how little can be done to resurrect this greatness. The poorest towns I have ever seen have been in reservations, towns full of junk cars and broken windows, towns that somehow seem temporary even after decades of existence.

It just makes me want to cry.

Also visited: Aberdeen, Richmond, Ipswich, Roscoe, Bowdle, Java, Selby, Glenham, Wakpala and Kenel, South Dakota. Fort Yates, Cannon Ball and Mandan, North Dakota.