2009.02.04 The News from Eagle Butte

Written by David Green.


Linda Shadbolt knew she was bringing me a great present when she brought in a copy of the West River Eagle a few weeks ago.

The Eagle is the weekly paper serving Eagle Butte, S.D., a community of about 600 people—about 80 percent of them Native Americans.

Linda’s daughter, Madonna Swimmer, is a subscriber since that’s where she and her brother, Orlin, grew up. Like many distant Observer subscribers, Madonna still wants to keep up with the people and events from her home town.

A lot of the news is different. You can see that right from the start with the headline “Local cowgirl selected.” She was chosen to serve as a chaperone for the Miss Rodeo America pageant. Another story tells that World War II Codetalker Clarence Wolf Guts was honored with the gift of a quilt.

The Eagle still uses plenty of what it calls the “locals,” those reports that tell who visited whom and where they ate lunch. I say they still use them because most papers in this area closed out the personal items years ago.

The old Observers printed the neighborhood reports from Morenci, Lyons, Medina, Lime Creek and other areas. Every week Mary Clymer would call around town to collect what some people saw merely as gossip, but that gossip was good reading for some people.

In the Eagle, I learn that Deb Doolittle joined Everett and Melinda Hunt and John and Laura Hunt in Pierre Wednesday afternoon where they sold their calves.

Over in Lantry, Amy Ulrich and Ann Marie visited at the Owen McLellan home Friday, where Amy helped winterize the windows.

As I read through the locals, I thought about Twitter. Twitter is one of those social networking tools that allows users to keep track of every little thing that a friend is doing, providing the friend wants to spend the time sending tweets.

For example, a person might send a tweet saying they’re at a particular store and heading toward a coffee shop. So any well-connected friend in the area can meet up for actual face-to-face contact.

The locals are like an ancient, snail-paced Twitter.

• Keith and Tiny Farlee attended the volleyball game in Eagle Butte Thursday evening.

• Rick and Kristi Farlee attended the football game in Murdo Friday night.

• Sunday dinner guests of Judy Farlee were Jaime and Chad Pulling and family.

• Tuesday, Mary Lu Griffith delivered her local news to the Eagle news office and then spent some time playing cards with Mary Walters and Alva Schneider.

Sorry you weren’t there. Should have tweeted.

Any newspaper from far away will provide amusement to those who aren’t locals. Why, for example, does the candidate for county treasurer—a grown woman who appears to be in her 30s or 40s—list as one of her two qualifications “The daughter of Lawrence and Debbie Goldade”? Maybe I’m misjudging her age.

Linda had a note attached to the copy of the Eagle that she dropped off, telling me to be sure to read the obituaries. I didn’t need a reminder. I always check to see if people in a particular newspaper simply die or go to a better place or go fishing with Jesus, etc. In the Eagle, everyone passes away.

At the funeral of Goldie Iron Hawk—the great-great-granddaughter of Ghost Horse who was killed at Wounded Knee—11 people crowded together to serve as casket bearers. There were also honorary casket bearers—at least 150 of them. I gave up counting.

The same thing with Viola Charging Cloud. Ten casket bearers and about 60 honoraries, from Pearl Hollow Horn and Gloria Sitting Crow to Zouie Lone Eagle and Rosie Roach.

The Eagle’s obits don’t tell how the person died—always a complaint of mine if an obit is to serve as a piece of family history—but they are rich in details. “Thousands of sourdough pancakes were served at Mary Lou’s table over the years.” “She was a pitcher for the Red Scaffold women’s fast-pitch team for many years. They won many tournament titles.”

The Eagle has some differences from the Observer, along with many similarities, and we could both learn some things from each other. Linda was right: I had a great time leafing through those pages.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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