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Middle of nowhere

September 25, 2009

You’ve probably driven through them before:  dusty little towns with nothing more than a blinking caution light at the main intersection.  There might be a few people milling about the faded storefronts or chatting through rolled-down car windows, but not much else appears to be going on.

But there’s more than meets the eye.  I live in one of those dusty little towns on a main highway between the Black Hills of South Dakota and the northern entrances to Yellowstone National Park.  Trucks and automobiles pass through by the hundreds every day, coming to a rolling stop at the caution light before picking up speed again, leaving Lame Deer in their dust. 

That’s what they would normally do, anyway – but not today.  Today was the Native American Day parade in Lame Deer, and for 30 minutes highway traffic was at a standstill while floats and horseback riders crossed the highway at its intersection with Cheyenne Avenue.  Powwow princesses, army veterans, school children, and college kids paraded down the Avenue tossing candy at the onlookers crowding either side.  Meanwhile, traffic backed up for at least a mile along Highway 212 while this dusty little nothing of a town vibrantly demonstrated that life still pulses in its veins. 

Rural America is still alive, although not necessarily doing well.  It saddens me to know that the rural-to-urban migration patterns besieging much of the global south have hit the U.S. nearly as hard.  But it heartens me to know that small-town Americans are still holding on, and I’m doing my very best to help them.  Small towns are, and hopefully always will be, reminders of the beauty of simplicity – at least to me. 


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