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Posts Tagged ‘Fargo’

native_americanLike many of you I have rolled through the Black Hills of South Dakota with the wind in my face…

Whether a weekend warrior eager for a brief interlude of escapist revelry or it’s a way of life — I think all would agree that rolling through the “hills” offers up an incredible experience.  From rolling plains to majestic mountains — sometimes you have to pull over just to take it all in.  It’s not only a magical place to visit because of its beauty, but also because of its “roots” to the Native Americans who live there.  Most are Dakota, Lakota or Nakota people and known collectively as the Sioux.  The Sioux nation traces its roots to the  “Oceti Sakowin” (Seven Council Fires) and traditional stories place the nations birth in the Black Hills where customs hold the forces of nature as holy.

Having lived in “NoDak” during a more violent time, I’m reminded of Anishinabe decent, a person from the Dakota/Lakota Nations who has been imprisoned since 1976.  His name is Leonard Peltier.  Peltier is serving two life sentences for the deaths of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams during a June 26, 1975, standoff on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

I previously blogged about Leonard Peltier HERE and the significance of the song “Sacrifice” from the album “Contact from the Underworld Red Boy” by Robbie Robertson.  Peltier was convicted in Fargo, N.D., in 1977 and recently was denied parole after having a full parole hearing for the first time in 15 years at the Lewisburg, Pa., federal prison where he is being held.  Some feel he is an unrepentant, cold-blooded murderer who executed two FBI special agents and has neither accepted responsibility for the murders nor shown any remorse.  However, others feel the FBI had no substantive evidence in the trial, essentially framed him and he has unsuccessfully appealed his conviction numerous times.

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier

For many Native Americans, Peltier’s imprisonment has come to stand not only for unjust violence waged against Native Americans but also for the theft of the life of a man who has handled his 33 years in jail with dignity and grace.  If you take the time and look deeper into Peltier’s legal situation — compare the 64-year olds poor health and then contrast it with the recent “compassionate grounds” release of the Lockerbie bomber — one can only assume that the public outrage likely didn’t help his chances in the parole hearing.  His best chance now of getting out of prison alive is to receive a pardon or clemency from the president of the U.S.  However, that is unlikely, as Mr. Obama would rather spend time reaching out to Muslims and celebrate Islamic holy month by hosting a Ramadan dinner than address the plight of Native Americans.  To be fair, Mr. Obama did present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Joe Medicine Crow — High Bird in Washington last month.  Photo HERE.

I’m not on a mission to convince anyone of Peltier’s guilt or innocence.  Remember, this all started with a song and I’ve not turned activist fighting for the overturn of the U.S. constitutional court rulings that affirmed the confiscation of Native American lands.  I’m a motorcycle enthusiast who enjoys the Black Hills and appreciates the freedom to take in a week of open roads.  There is more information related to freeing Peltier HERE or if compelled, you can write him at:

Leonard Peltier
#89637-132
USP-Lewisburg
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837

Lastly, in doing the research for this post I run across Arron Huey.  A photo journalist with images that are truly captivating of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.  His work was featured in Perpignan at the last Vis d’Or Photojournalism Festival.

Photo courtesy of  LDOC and Travel South Dakota web site.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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Mac

Mac

The previous day could be best summarized as bugs, wind and heat!

Hoping for less wind than yesterday’s Montana adventure we got up early.  Actually, one of the guys in the posse (and you won’t believe this), wakes up minutes prior to the time of the alarm!  As if he has some subconscious alarm clock telling him it’s time to go. 

At any rate, we were greeted with even more wind than the previous day which meant full-face helmets to provide some relief from the 30MPH sustained, gusting to 40MPH “breeze.”  The weather service issued a wind advisory across the entire NoDak state…like we didn’t notice!

NoDak Farmland

NoDak Farmland

US Highway 2 runs east-west through the northern side of NoDak and Interstate 94 runs east-west through the southern side of state. Interstate 29 runs north-south on the eastern edge of the state.  We made a mid-course change in our plans and decided to drop down and take one of only two major roads in North Dakota which runs diagonal (northwest-southeast) through the state — US Highway 52.

US 52 provides an ever changing mix of agricultural farm and pasture land, native wetlands, and small lakes set on rolling landscape, but the wind was howling and made for wicked motrcycle driving!  Tolerable as long as we headed directly into the gusts, but on US 52 we were often diagonal to the wind direction and it was interesting riding having to compensate.  All day I couldn’t help but wonder when are they going to turn North Dakota into one big-ass wind farm…

Farm

Farm

We picked up Interstate 94 east at Jamestown.  Louis L’Amour, the western novelist, and Darin Erstad, the pro baseball player in the 2002 World Champion Anaheim Angels, are both natives.  In my “fun fact” search of NoDak tidbits I ran across this little video of some dude’s cam-cording the NoDak landscape from his pickup truck while driving across I-94…and listening to some kind of Scottish music.  Can you spell F-U-N?!

About an hour later we arrived in Fargo.   Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota and situated on the Red River.  It’s the place people most relate to in the Coen Brothers movie starring Oscar-winner Frances McDormand and William H. Macy.

10,000 Lakes

10,000 Lakes

Another 3 hours of wind-whip-lash we were approaching the Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis).   It’s hard to determine which city you are actually in.  There is no visible dividing line; the cities really do blend into one another.  Minneapolis is an all American city, the people are chill, there’s no east coast ‘tude, and there’s water everywhere…a great vibe.  The best part of the day was that we’d seen the wind drop off significantly and the end of a 500 mile day came to a close.

Interested to know more about our “Ride Home”?  Read the road blogs for: Day 1HERE, Day 2 HERE, Day 3 HERE, Day 4 HERE and Day 5 HERE

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