MTPR

Reflections West

Wednesday 4:54 PM

Reflections West is a weekly radio program that presents the thoughts of writers and scholars on the American West. These thinkers pair their own thoughts with a passage from literature and history.

Reflections West podcast

Ways to Connect

Crissie McMullan, the executive director of Mountain Home Montana, considers the connection between homelessness and the environment. The absence of a warm bed and warm meal can trump the healing potential of time spent in wildness, writes McMullan:

"I first started caring about the natural world in my late teens, a time where I felt confused about who I was and who I wanted to be. Sometimes I was so tangled up inside that I couldn’t breathe. I sought air in the most literal way: outside, among trees, between mountains, beneath a big sky.

"The trouble with giving away a place name is that then we can guarantee someone else will go there," points out poet, Damon Falke. "No matter how remote the dirt road that winds its way to the overlook where the sunsets are eloquently perfect, someone else will seek and find the same road.  When we expedite this process of finding, we (or someone) will begin to advertise our places through a precise network of signs and signals.

"I have no deep physical roots to a particular place, nor did my parents before me," writes anthropologist Sally Thompson in her manuscript, True North at the Third Pole: Exploring the Indian Himalayas. "The graves of my ancestors lie unremembered in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Connecticut.

"Years ago I served as an expert witness for archaeology in the Taos Pueblo water rights case. After I presented a status report of my research, the governor of the Pueblo stood up and said he wanted to note a significant difference between my culture and his: curiosity. Euro-Americans want to dig things up, dissect them and verify everything. Indian people already know who they are and they don’t need the physical evidence of the past to prove it.

Cornelius Marion Battey (PD)

“For seven days in June 2015, Rachel Dolezal captured the news cycle,” writes University of Montana professor, Tobin Shearer, for "Reflections West."

 

“Dolezal had led Spokane's NAACP and taught Africana studies, but lost those positions after her parents outed her as a white person. Dolezal had presented herself as black for years.

 

Large ponderosa pine tree.
(PD)

Historian Ellen Baumler recalls a stark piece of Montana’s haunted history, Helena’s Hangman’s Tree.

John Keene was the first recorded victim who breathed his last on Helena’s infamous Hangman’s Tree. The Murderer’s Tree, as it was first known, stood at the head of Dry Gulch. Those who knew it well recalled that the ancient ponderosa pine had massive lower branches that tangled in weird contortions. The branches, bleak and devoid of foliage, protruded some twenty feet from its gnarled, moss-covered trunk. Miners, needing to cut smaller logs for cabins, let it stand.

Murray Hotel in Livingston Montana
Flickr user Carol Vinzant (CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

To Toby Thompson, the Christmas spirit is really just the warmth of community, something we can find any time of year.

Tess Fahlgren & Richard Hugo: Montana's Other Face

Jun 26, 2015
Richard Hugo
Poetry Dispatch

Tess Fahlgren knows that art can thrive in the isolated prairie towns of Eastern Montana. "Driving Montana," by Richard Hugo, is a poet's tribute to Montana's small towns and open vistas, and the creativity that connects them.

Hannah Bissell & Victor Charlo: Days Worked And Reworked

Jun 16, 2015

As Hannah Bissell watches her neighbors tinker with a tractor engine late into the evening, she wonders about the connection between shared memories and hard work:

Damon Falke Unwraps Memory's Gifts From The Past

Jun 9, 2015

Poet Damon Falke remembers the day when a mentor handed him a sack and said, "Read these, man. They'll change your life."

Marjorie Snipes & Flannery O'Connor: Immersion

Jun 2, 2015

Marjorie Snipes and her family live in Georgia but spend vacation time near Seeley Lake, Montana:

"It is amazing that while the world around us turns spring, the lake in front of our rented cabin remains frozen with snowpack. It is a diorama where foreground is spring and background winter, and some mornings I can’t decide which stage to occupy or how to be properly shod.

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