Above: SGU students Amanda Small Bear, Kyle Bordeaux,
Chantelle One Star and Allen Stead at the SD
Festival of Books 2011 in Deadwood, SD.
October 8, 2011
9:30am CST - Got up at 7am. Fiddled around on the computer for a few minutes. Got dressed, then waited for everyone else to get ready. Packed my tablet, spiral notebook, the book I am currently reading (“The World We Used To Live In” by Vine Deloria Jr.), and my medications.
By then, most everyone was nearly ready. I went out and loaded my wheelchair into our van, and only dimly noted that the spare tire was sitting on the back seat from having had a flat a couple of weeks ago. My capable wife and her sister put it back in its storage under the rear of the van.
Then we all loaded up -- my wife, her sister, our three daughters (our son declined the trip, preferring to stay home and play video games) and me -- and headed for Sinte, where we were supposed to meet at 10am.
It was 10:01am. I made the comment that it was a red letter day, proof that we could almost be on time for something.
10:30am CST - Of the 33 people that signed up for the trip, only 10 showed up. Chalk it up to Pell grants having come out yesterday. *sigh*
12 noon MST - We’re zooming down I-90 at 80 mph. It’s cloudy, but no rain yet. 52°F. We’re passing semis like they’re standing still. We just passed mile marker 90. The Paha Sapa loom on the horizon, grey in the misty conditions.
12:30pm MST - Stopped for gas in Rapid City. It’s 40 miles to Deadwood, we’ve got half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses. Well, not really. I just like to quote that line.
1:15pm MST: We’re going down winding State Highway 14 from the Interstate toward Deadwood. The evergreens stand proud and strong, and the deciduous trees are ablaze with color.
1:30pm MST - We arrive at the Deadwood Mountain Grand casino, one of the main locations of the Book Festival.
It’s my first time in Deadwood, and I am amused by the names of many of the hotels and casinos, many of which are right out of an old west movie: Wild Bill’s, the Mineral Palace, Hickok’s, the Silverado, the Gold Dust, the Four Aces...
We decide to have lunch at the Deadwood Mountain Grand. I have an enormous burger dubbed “The Pounder,” two patties, bacon, cheese, a mountain of steak fries, and cole slaw... it probably satisfied my protein requirements for an entire week.
I sat watching the rain, now coming down steadily, which spattered on the concrete deck and dripped from the patio umbrellas, tables and chairs.
A quick video presentation came to my mind:
Alan: Hi! We’re here at the 2011 South Dakota Book Festival in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Sammie: Alan has never been to Deadwood before, and felt some concern that he wouldn’t fit in.
Alan: So last night, we watched an episode of “Deadwood” on HBO, so we could learn to talk like authentic Deadwoodians.
Alan: Yup. So from this point on, we’re gonna speak Deadwoodese.
Hi, again! We’re here at the BEEPing 2011 South Dakota BEEPing Festival of the BEEPing Book, here in BEEPing Deadwood, South BEEPing Dakota.
Sammie: Uh... I thought you were just going to do the accent...?
Alan: We’re gonna get to hear a bunch of BEEPing presentations by BEEPing authors such as Richard BEEPing Curtis, Sandra BEEPing Dallas, and, of course, that BEEPsucker, Joe Marshall the BEEPing Third.
Sammie: I really don’t think this is gonna work.
At any rate, after lunch, we went to where the book sale was being held, and I talked to several of the authors who were at their book tables. My wife, as expected, ended up buying five or six books.
After that we intended to go to another venue to hear a presentation by another author, but parking was absolutely impossible to find (ed. note: Most of the venues for the presentation were not handicapped accessible, a requirement that is put aside when it's a historical landmark, as most of Deadwood seems to be designated. We could not attend the workshops with our wheelchair-bound friend, which is a shame because it all looked interesting and fun). We drove around the block so many times that I made the comment that I was starting to feel like a comet.
We ended up driving out to the Four Aces Casino to get a Starbucks, then parked in the main parking garage downtown and went up and down main street looking at the various shops... in the rain.
At 6pm it was back to the Deadwood Mountain Grand, where dinner was being served for all the festivalgoers -- buffalo stew, various fruits, soda bread rolls, berry compote and mini cheesecakes. It was quite good.
Following dinner, the main event began. First, the South Dakota Humanities Council presented their Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities awards to the following recipients:
- South Dakota Magazine, represented by its publisher, Bernie Hunhoff
- Craig Howe of the American Indian Cultures Task Force
- Linda Hasselstrom, author of 13 books on life in South Dakota
- The City of Deadwood, represented by Mayor Francis Toscana
- The Deadwood Historic Preservation Society, represented by commission chairperson Ronda Feterl.
Finally, Leroy "J.R." LaPlante, who was recently named by Gov. Dennis Daugaard as the state’s Secretary of Tribal Relations, which is a new position in the governor's cabinet, got up to introduce the evening’s main speaker, Joseph Marshall III. His introduction seemed almost as long as Marshall’s entire speech, and my wife and I joked with each other afterward that LaPlante used the expression “without further ado” three separate times during his introduction... when you say “without further ado,” you’re supposed to be done!
At any rate, Joe Marshall was excellent. He talked about having been raised by his maternal grandmother to be the kind of man that a Lakota is supposed to be. He spoke of his love of the traditional Lakota ways, and the fact that he makes bows and arrows in the traditional manner.
He went on to talk about the initial efforts to get his book, “The Lakota Way,” published, explaining that his agent at the time had set up meetings for him with four different literary agents on the same afternoon in New York City; he flew in, delivered the elaborate presentation that he had put together to pitch the book, which at that time was to be titled “Let The Wind Blow Through You,” to the four agents at four different locations, then back on a plane to head home.
As it turned out, a bidding war began between two of the publishers, and before he even got home, his wife was on the phone to him with the good news that he had a publishing contract.
He said that he had been mulling over the idea of a book on Crazy Horse for some time; he is one of Marshall’s heroes, and one of the ultimate examples of what a Lakota man should be. Knowing this, his wife told Joe’s agent, “Tell the publisher that Joe wants to do a book on Crazy Horse too.” That was the extent of the pitch for what eventually became “The Journey Of Crazy Horse” -- and the publisher bought that book as well, even though there was nothing to it yet but Marshall’s thoughts.
Marshall began his talk by saying, “They have this listed as a “lecture,” but I don’t want to call it a lecture -- that would imply that I know something, and the only thing I really know is that I don’t know anything.”
In a brief Q&A session at the end, someone asked Marshall what qualities of Crazy Horse he would like to see in our leaders today, and he responded, “humility.” I think that Joe Marshall himself is an example of that quality as well. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing him speak and hope I have another such opportunity in the future.