Sunday, March 13, 2011

Relicts of Lewis and Clark

Medora, North Dakota
When voyaging through America’s northern plains you flirt with time. As you pass through the lands made famous by Lewis and Clark, much of it has been unrecognizably altered by two hundred years of living off this hard, dry land. The cold signatures of the 21st century- town closures, rusting farms, meth warnings, are all around, but to find the relicts of Lewis and Clark requires a detour to the past.The ancient glory of the Great Plains persists where the land continued its natural labour. Undulating pastures that once fed bison, now support cattle but also the wildlife and wildflowers of the past. These areas are living archives with a history written through the natural players. Knowing these players gives you the ability to read this history as seen by Lewis and Clark and the changes that have been brought over time.
While there are national grasslands and grazing reserves that preserve these fading relicts of the great plains, arguably the most celebrated archive resides in a national park. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a natural slash in the green short grass carpet of a prairie summer. Within the bentonite badlands, there is a timepiece of wild America that keeps the same pace now as when European eyes first felt the greatest of these plains.

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