Archive for June 17th, 2012
“They are not like us. The earth is more real to them – much. They’re barely separated from it – each generation is born back to it, while we get further away all the time. We lose touch with our beginning, our senses get thick-skinned. But they are everlastingly sensitive.”
– Indian agent Ephraim Morse, in the 1944 D’Arcy McNickle short story “Snowfall”
Missoula reporter Kim Briggeman introduced Missoulian readers last week to Arleen and Louis Adams, who together found the almost forgotten grave of their ancestor deep in the Montana wilderness. A fitting read for Father’s Day:
NAM-A-SHA (Trail To Move On) – Arleen Adams wasn’t expecting this.
One day she was at home in Arlee, her dad’s great-great-grandfather the farthest thing from her mind.
The next she was up here at Francis Adams’ grave, high in the Bitterroot Mountains southwest of Darby, on the Stateline Trail with her father.
Louis and Arleen Adams stood side by side on the last afternoon of May, her open hand patting her heart as their voices blended in a Salish honor song. High school students from Missoula Sentinel and a knot of mentors listened spellbound as the joyful strains drifted over the mountain ridge.
“In the back of my mind, I really didn’t feel or know the significance of this until today,” Arleen said afterward, smiling away tears.
Now she understood why her father himself quietly wept on that day in 1975, when 11-year-old Arleen scrambled down this slope and found the overgrown grave site – or rather an almost hidden sign that marked it. Louis knew it wasn’t up the trail where Pete Pierre had placed the headstone that read:
Francis Adams/ 80 years old/ Died 1900/ Salish Indian