Rocky Mountain Fort: A Dream Deferred?

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What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

  • Langston Hughes


When I returned to the Rocky Mountain Fort I was initially happy, for the bank had not changed. I weaved through the trail, hands lingering over leaves my feet remembering the path to where our camp was. The change of season brought growth and green that was not there through the bitter winter. Well to be honest, by northern standards it was a light winter but by southern standards it would have been a version of hell freezing over. I led the group I was with through the willows and tall brush to the hill that we carved snow steps into earlier this year. I took a deep breath because I knew that once I walked over the crest I wouldn’t be able to unsee what I was about to lay my eyes on.

All that was left of the Rocky Mountain Fort camp was a stockpile of firewood that was rmfmore like gold to us on the cold nights. My eye could see all the way to the cut line that lay on the crown of the adjacent hill. I could see the bend where the Moberly River lay, a trek that would take me twenty five minutes in the snow. All that was left of the living forest were the unburied skeletons of trees piled in the middle of the clearing.

I didn’t want to feel too much there in front of the people I was with. I didn’t want to make a show of tears even though I could feel the emotions rise up. I walked around silently trying to figure out where everything had been when we called that place home. I busied myself so I didn’t have to acknowledge the knot in my throat.

We dared to dream there. Spent nights imagining the healing camps that could take place on the land and the workshops that could be held for the people. Dreaming is a dangerous thing, when it is a dream deferred. I sat on the stump, oblivious to the conversation buzzing about me, and I pondered the words of the Holy Man Black Elk when he said, “A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream”. Sorrow. Grief. Pain. The saga of displacement and loss continues. We dreamt and maybe we knew on some level it wouldn’t last forever and that an injunction was inevitable but we dared to have hope. We had too. The hope kept us warm at night and kept us going when we wanted to quit.

The group I was with walked far into the clearing and I stayed behind to try to process some of what I was feeling. As I sat there I began to hear the birds surrounding us, I studied the ground and traced the red lines of strawberry plants that weaved themselves across the earths floor. In spite of being stripped down, the earth still pushed forth life. There were hip high poplar trees sprouting up and plants that pushed upwards towards Grandfather Sun’s warmth. I couldn’t even spot where our skidoo trails had been because the Earth had regenerated from our footprints as well. It was in that moment that I could feel it inside of me… Hope.

Only a small fraction of land has been cleared and the earth is so resilient that it has already begun to heal itself. It is not too late to stop this dam. It can and will be stopped.

I seen it there at the Rocky Mountain Fort in the dirt, amongst the bodies of elderly trees, I seen it, I felt it, I heard it..

“They tried to bury us, and they did not know that we were seeds”

We are still here.


In Spirit,

Helen K



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  1. Helen you are an absolutely awesome writer. Don’t stop. Use a camera too and take the pictures. Keep on writing for this is the sort of history the young ones will need in future.

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