The Undying West: A Chronicle of Montana's Camas Prairie by Carlene Cross

By Carlene Cross

Within the timeless West, Carlene pass creates a memorable combination of private and local background. The voices in her tales contain these of her father and his "sod-busting" associates; the Salish, Kootenai, Nez Perce, and Iroquois Indians; the fossil continues to be of Montana's prehistory; or even the wind, the soil, and the prairie grasses. pass is a storyteller within the culture of such amazing Western writers as William Kittredge, Rick Bass, and Ivan Doig. And like them, she deals a private testomony to the iconic features of the West. comprises 50 black and white photos and maps.

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Gadgets bombard us with racket, and automation litters our atmosphere. Excessive sound dulls our genetic earth-instinct. Quiet space makes us nervous; we fill it like an empty coffee cup. By neglecting to cultivate a relationship with nature, are we not denying ourselves the only mentor capable of tutoring us back into contentment and sustainability? With all the wonderful things science Page xii has given us, hasn't it also taken us too far afield from the enchantment of creation and the ancient practices that have sustained us through the ages?

Today the descendants of these hardened souls are the valley's family farmers. They have survived winters like those in 1953 and the drought and insects that followed. Most do not overgraze (doing so would remove all possibility of avoiding bankruptcy). They are responsible caretakers, laboring to pass the land on to their children. Over the years they have received some government assistancebut not enough to matter much or keep most here for long. Those who have stayed are proud and independent; some say they are the last remnant of a dying breed.

Horses, having more sense than people, refused to step onto it and had to be led. The experience always prepared us for the elevator. The huge red wooden silo, built about the same time as the bridge, stood taller than any building on the reservation. The chaff-filled place fascinated and frightened every farm kid who entered it. The floor shook as belts and pulleys noisily clanked the bins of wheat upward, far above our heads. We knew someone's limb would be torn free at any moment or the walls, acting as the belly of the terrible monster, would open up and we'd be lost in a rolling sea of grain.

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