Cover image for Holding stone hands : on the trail of the Cheyenne exodus
Title:
Holding stone hands : on the trail of the Cheyenne exodus
Author:
Boye, Alan, 1950-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
xii, 347 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780803212947
Format :
Book

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E99.C53 B68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

In 1878 approximately three hundred Northern Cheyennes under the leadership of Dull Knife and Little Wolf fled shameful conditions on an Indian Territory reservation in present-day Oklahoma. Settled there against their will, they were making a peaceful attempt to return to their homeland in the Tongue River country of Montana. Despite earlier promises that the Cheyennes could choose to leave the reservation, government officials declared them renegades and sent thousands of soldiers in pursuit.   In 1995 Alan Boye set out on foot to follow Dull Knife's thousand-mile flight through the sparsely populated wilderness of America's high plains. Along the way he was joined by descendents of Dull Knife. Holding Stone Hands is the tale of two journeys. Boye provides a vivid, moving account of the Cheyenne's struggle to return to Montana. At the same time, he details the trek he and his Cheyenne companions made through four states and his growing understanding of why the Cheyenne's longing for their homeland was stronger than their desire to live.


Author Notes

Alan Boye is a professor of English at Vermont's Lyndon State College. His books include A Guide to the Ghosts of Lincoln and The Complete Roadside Guide to Nebraska.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a gracefully written and compassionate account of his return to a dark page in this country's past, Boye, who is white, relates one of the most poignant, if largely forgotten, tragedies of Native American dispossession in the 19th century. In 1878, some 300 Northern Cheyenne Indians, under the leadership of Dull Knife and Little Wolf, fled starvation and disease on an Oklahoma reservation in an attempt to return to their Montana homeland. Pursued by soldiers in running battles for more than 1000 miles, the Indians split into two bands, terrorizing settlers along the way with retaliatory rape and murder. When Dull Knife's band was finally captured near the South Dakota border, he resolved to defy the army's order to return to Oklahoma. Knowing that they faced certain death, the Cheyenne escaped again late one winter night; in the brutal fight that ensued, nearly half the band, mostly women and children, perished. Because of their determination, the survivors of the second band eventually received a reservation of their own in Montana. Boye greatly enriches this story by describing his own hardships retracing the exodus through a starkly beautiful landscape, accompanied by descendants of the surviving Cheyenne. Never mawkish or patronizing, Boye recognizes early on that both journeys belong more to his companions than to himself. By reaching back and touching the suffering of their ancestors, they begin what Native Americans call "a healing," a reconciliation of the past with the present. Sam Spotted Elk Jr., who took the journey with Boye, aptly sums up the tribal spirit that transcends generations: "What we leave behind is what the children pick up from us and carry with them." (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One The Leaving I have not slept all night. Not even changed clothes. Instead, I have busied myself with the countless items Ich to do before I can leave. At 3 A.M. I realize that the strange sorrow that has overcome me and the frenetic, nearly psychotic, activity of the long night have only tried to mask a simple fact: I don't want to leave.     To leave the boys, Linda, the comfort of the familiar.     Earlier, the four of us danced about the house, an evening of tears and laughter and loving. Every emotion was near the surface for everyone; everyone was full aware of the coming changes. We all saw the creature that lurked in our home: the leaving. My leaving for two months was an uninvited guest whose intentions were far from clear.     The night before departing to prison, or to war, must be much like tonight was for us.     My backpacking journey has neither the ever-present specter of death nor the horror of war; nor does it have the isolation and subjugation of prison. My purpose is simply to retrace a bit of history. I am going to try to walk the trailless route of a handful of desperate Indians who had fled across America.     In 1878 about three hundred Northern Cheyenne men, women, and children fled to escape the starvation and disease of a prison known as Indian Territory: Oklahoma. Their journey turned into a thousand-mile running battle of pain and sorrow.     The reason for their journey was far too complex ever to fully comprehend. But at the heart of all such journeys is the longing for home. What I was leaving, by choice, they died trying to regain. The same specter who haunted my family this evening came down on them like the black clouds of raging spring storms that sweep the prairies of Oklahoma. Such longings can press down on your chest like stones, brought on by the sweet smell of the prairie grasses, the pale yellow of flowers blooming on the soap plant yucca, the touch of the wind, the rains of Montana. It is the same for anyone: either lift them away or be crushed.     I have not slept all night because of this weight, this longing, this uninvited guest. By 5 A.M. I demand a change, some way of disinviting it, of lifting away the sorrow of my leaving.     So I take an hour's walk into the cool, brightening dawn and am transformed. On a hill above my Vermont home I stop at the expansive view to the east. The dawn is arriving. An arch of arrow-straight rays shoot from the unseen sun below the horizon. Behind me, to the west, deep yellow and gold clouds glimmer in the reflected light. Below, gray steeples and dark rooftops: the town sleeps peacefully still in the shadow of night. My home.     In the morning time passes quickly, and the boys seem less concerned about my leaving and more directed at the excitement of their own trip to the Maine coast that Linda had planned as a diversion to my leaving. This hike would never have come to pass had it not been for her support and encouragement, and even now as I stammer my apologies for such a harebrained idea, she silences me. "We'll be fine," she says. "Stop talking like that." She takes my hand in hers. "I love you."     We leave three sets of greasy marks where our lips have pressed on either side of the window glass, and they drive away, three white arms waving until they are gone.     At eight sharp I hoist the backpack. I am shocked at its weight. My first thought is: I will never be able to carry this eight hundred miles or more. But I take a deep breath, pause a second for a prayer, and step outside.     That step sends me around the far side of the house in order to stay in the yard as long as possible. I pass the garden and at its edge is a broken Frisbee the boys use to mark home plate. The lilac leaves are half out, the still-dormant blossoms of apples are pink, wax balls on barely green twigs. In the grass at the edge of the yard is a small piece of a blue egg, speckled with flecks of white. Undoubtedly someone's nest was robbed.     Then I am away from home.     At the end of the block I turn back for last a look. A solitary sunbeam has broken from a white cloud and shines across the sky. Every hill surrounding our home is about to bloom. Spring is being born.     In a half mile I am on the bridge over the Passumpsic River -- my first river crossing. From the top of the bridge I can see down the Passumpsic Valley. A light fog clings to the path the river takes through my home, which I am leaving, which is a good home, a peaceful, hidden home, in this valley in New England hills and history. Like the Cheyennes, I too am going away to Oklahoma, and will have a long journey back to my home, this sunny-bright Saturday town.     "That's quite a load," a woman says at the convenience store, which doubles as the town's bus station. She is buying a quart of whole milk. "Where are you going?"     "Oklahoma."     "Oklahoma?" She inspects me closer now, suspicious. "Why would you want to go there?" Two weeks earlier a bomb at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City had taken the lives of 168 people.     "I'm going to try to walk from Oklahoma to the Black Hills," I say.     "Are you following some kind of trail?" she asks.     "Well, I'm going to try and follow the route of a historic incident. Cowboys and Indians."     She nods. In the weeks leading up to my leaving people had been responding to my plans in one of two ways. Either they have smiled and said, "Have a great time," or have been somber and whispered, "Be careful." This woman does both; she says, "Good luck."     As she leaves, the bus pulls up in a cloud of black diesel smoke. The driver winces as he throws the pack into the luggage compartment. I take a last look at my town, then step onboard. I sit down and flip open the newspaper I bought. The news is still all of the Oklahoma City tragedy. The injured, the bereaved, the motives, the suspect. I read that the only man arrested so far was just transported to a federal penitentiary at El Reno, Oklahoma.     I sit bolt upright. El Reno is within a stone's throw of the old Cheyenne-Arapahoe Indian Agency, the headquarters for the military. The Northern Cheyennes had escaped from that very place.     The bus roars westward, but a specter rides with me. It has reached out and placed the recent tragedy side by side with the long-ago suffering of the Cheyenne people. For a moment it has lifted them both above the haze of time. I must be quick and watchful in order to best understand the truths it may reveal.     Three days later I will stand in the gray rain at the old Fort Reno cemetery on a grassy hill above the federal penitentiary about to begin walking in the footsteps of the Cheyennes. Chapter Two Black Kettles in the Land of Roman Nose Above the darkened downtown of Oklahoma City an exploding lightning bolt scatters its sizzling incandescence across the black sky. It is ten o'clock at night and we have been driving all day from our boyhood home of Lincoln, Nebraska. My brother is driving, but he has not spoken in some time, concentrating instead on the gigantic storm that is pounding down on the city. He is driving me to where I will start my hike. All day long our talk has been animated and cheerful, but since entering the Oklahoma City limits, we have been silent.     I squint through the bullets of rain on the window, but there is nothing to see of the recent bombing. From the interstate, the downtown sparkles banally in artificial and storm light. Earlier today the city detonated carefully placed sticks of dynamite to demolish the shell of the devastated Federal Building, more dust falling on the memory of the sudden, violent deaths of so many.     The deaths came of a violence not of nature but of a nurtured hatred. Once the shock passes that such terror can happen here in the ordinary bustling of a midwestern spring morning, comes the harder truth that such malice can happen at all. In the faces of the murderers who brought such death lies hidden the dark and abhorrent features of a larger truth. Its hideous visage appears in the smoke and blood of such a tragedy, a face all the more frightening because we suddenly recognize its features as familiar, even commonplace. In the blood and tears and twisted architecture of human remains is the snarling profile of common, ordinary hatred.     We pass a billboard thanking the nation for support and prayers during the tragedy. The radio reports tornadoes to the east of the city. We are headed west, toward El Reno.     In thirty minutes we are standing in the lobby of some nameless motel just off Interstate 40. A young, very pregnant woman sits behind the desk, but she does not look up at us. Instead, she is staring at a television set. The 10 P.M. news is on. She watches, transfixed. We do not speak but stare with her as video of a blast fills the screen. The final explosion leveling the bombed-out Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building is shown and reshown from a dozen different angles. For the full ten seconds it takes to reduce the building to dust, the roar of the blast is the only sound.     The newscaster says, "Barricades were set up by authorities to prevent anything being taken as souvenirs."     The pregnant clerk turns to us, her eyes downcast. "Souvenirs? What monster would ever want a souvenir?" It is an overcast morning and a light rain is falling. We drive a short distance to the old fort grounds just west of El Reno. The fort is on a long, low hill in the tree-lined valley of the North Canadian River. The Cheyenne-Arapahoe Indian Agency was on the riverbank opposite the fort. Although only a few tattered clapboard buildings remain of the fort, one brick building still houses busy governmental offices. The building is locked up tight, and I have to pound on the door to get someone's attention. The cheerful woman who comes to open the door shrugs when I ask her about the locked doors. "Everyone's being cautious since the bombing," she explains. At my request she directs us to the cemetery.     The cemetery is just west of the building. We wander around the old, uniform white markers, reading the names. It looks as if no one has been buried here for decades, and most of the markers are from the days when Oklahoma was Indian Territory. Against the rear stone wall, which now functions largely to keep out range cattle, a single, isolated marker is the final resting place of Chalk, an Arapaho scout for the army who was killed in the first battle against the fleeing Cheyennes at a place seventy or eighty miles from here known as Turkey Springs. I stand at this marker and call to my brother, who is in a far corner of the cemetery. "Here. Here's something from that time," I say.     A mile to the southwest, in its own shelter of tiny trees, the pink walls of the federal penitentiary are glistening in the gray rain where the suspect in the bombing sits, perhaps staring up at this very hill.     We leave the cemetery, then drive back through the fort and on a few miles to the northwest looking for the place I am to start. I know what the place should look like: a solitary bluff, just north of Geary, where the Cheyennes had camped the night they escaped. The landscape is flat, deep green fields and red soil in the skinny rain.     I am fidgeting and babbling, trying not very successfully to hide my fear. I am no stunning physical specimen, and despite my months of training, I realize that I may not make it.     My brother notices my agitation. "Tell me again why you want to do this?" he says.     I had first heard of the story of Little Wolf and Dull Knife and their long flight toward home while growing up in Nebraska, and I had always been drawn to it. Initially it seemed like a perfect metaphor for the history of white and Indian relations, and later not a metaphor at all, but a heart-wrenching tale of courage, desire, and strength. But in the end neither of those reasons were what had brought me here.     Because of its antiquity, the human history of almost every place in the world has faded to nothing more than fables, dead stories whose characters seem but remote fictions. When I was a boy, many of the elderly men and women who walked the streets of Lincoln had been brought to the state in covered wagons, had been boys and girls in the time of Dull Knife and Little Wolf. Here was a part of the human history: this faded tragedy was a part of the explanation of who we had come to be, something that might explain us to ourselves and how we had come to live here in the high, open prairies of America.     And it all had happened but a heartbeat ago.     "There's got to be an easier way to get a feel for history than walking a thousand miles," my brother says.     I shake my head. "I guess I just was attracted to the Cheyennes' desire for home, and why so many people risked their lives to return there." This is what I say, but I am thinking more selfish thoughts. Even with the best of luck, I have less than half my life remaining, and I am dulled into believing that the safety of my modern life will insulate me from the enormity of time. "I want to truly understand," I say out loud, "that once, long ago, these people were as alive as we are. They were breathing and laughing and crying human beings -- then they died out here somewhere. If I can really picture that, then I think I may understand some simple truth in my own life."     "Well," he says with a laugh, "it isn't hard to see who has the most common sense in the family."     In a moment he points ahead and to the west side of the road. In the distance the landmark is unmistakable, even in the gray rain. A large horseshoe-shaped hill rises above the flat, plain landscape. He pulls over onto a wide stretch of shoulder. We look at the bluff in silence.     Here it began, and it began because of the children.     On Sunday morning, September 8, 1878, the Indian Agency doctor, a man by the name of Robert Hodge, came from Fort Reno to this bluff, where several hundred Northern Cheyennes had set up their camp. The Cheyennes had paid no attention to an order from the commander at the fort that all children had to report to the Indian school at the agency. Hodge had been sent to ascertain if the children were too sick to come into the fort school, as the Cheyennes claimed. Two companies of troops had accompanied him and were camped a mile away to help move the children into the fort school. The military command at the fort believed that a show of force would convince the Cheyennes to send their children in.     The doctor moved from tepee to tepee and found much distrust and suspicion. He was not allowed to go anywhere in the camp without someone accompanying him. "They were camped upon a small, level piece of bottom land that was surrounded on all but the south side with sand hills from one to two hundred feet high," he later wrote.     Only later did he realize the advantage of the location. "The Indians had been prepared to massacre the troops had they attempted to encircle the camp, for they would have been subjected to an infuriating fire from all sides and probably would have been killed to a man." The Northern Cheyennes had protected themselves perfectly and commanded every square inch of the bluff.     At sundown the next night the commanding officer of Fort Reno, in the company of the Indian agent, visited the camp. They told the Cheyenne leaders that before rations would be issued to feed the hungry, their members had to be counted, and the children had to enroll in the school. Until then troops would guard the camp and food would be withheld. According to the officer in charge, the Cheyennes seemed friendly when the party left the camp at dusk.     That night two hundred soldiers camped near the horseshoe-shaped bluff. The Cheyennes held a dance that lasted late into the warm, star-filled night. A few guards stood at the fringe of the soldier's camp, squinting into the flecks of light from the Cheyenne campfires, watching the shadows dance and flicker.     In the middle of that dark, moonless night, with their campfires still burning, their tepees left standing, about three hundred Northern Cheyenne men, women, and children silently slipped over the back side of the bluff and mounted the horses that waited there. The troops nearby did not know they were gone until dawn.     "Oh, oh," my brother says. He is looking up and into the car's rearview mirror.     A police car has pulled in behind us, its lights flashing. The young state patrolman gets out and walks up to us, cautiously.     "You lost?" he says.     We explain, briefly, about my hike, and the last camp at the bluff in the distance.     "Is that right?" the patrolman says, excited now. "I grew up a mile from here. I always knew that bluff had some history, but I didn't know what." He points to a distant ranch house, visible near the base of the bluff. "That's my house. We've found arrowheads and such on that bluff for years, but I never knew what had happened there. Cheyennes, you say?"     "Northern Cheyennes," I say.     The patrolman climbs in his car and drives away with a slow, western wave of his hand. His departure is a sign, and I open the car door. "No more delaying," I say.     Ten minutes later I have put on my rain suit, hoisted the backpack, checked and rechecked my gear. I am ready.     A pure white cattle egret flies across a neighboring field. The pack is incredibly heavy. I shake hands with my brother and watch his car disappear. I begin.     Almost immediately everything changes. For one thing, I actually see what is around me. My eyes chance upon a tall clump of big bluestem grass, and I notice how the spreading turkey-foot pattern of flowers stand blue in the steel rain. I note the pattern of rocks and stones on the red soil, the shape of low clouds against the Cheyennes' bluff, the tick of rain against the hood of my raincoat.     My body shifts. The months of long walks preparing for this day have taught my body to fall quickly into the rhythmic, equal pace best suited for great distances.     And my mind alters, too. The self-doubt and fear that has characterized the last week I forcefully push away. For a second I begin to imagine how incredible the distance I want to cross, how unlikely my chance of success. I am stabbed by an overwhelming sorrow of missing my wife and children. I know enough of myself to understand that such thoughts will grow and fester in the weeks to come if I let them dominate. To combat this I try not to think about the countless future miles, nor on the past happiness of my sweet home, but only on the single day in front of me, the ten or twelve miles and path to camp.     My projected trip encompasses twenty-seven county maps, which I have numbered and packed in sets that Linda will mail to me along my route. I remove Map Number One and study the day's projected route. I have planned an easy first day; my destination is a state park, ten miles distant.     A car slows and stops.     "You've made two miles in forty-five minutes." My brother has followed my route after getting gas. "Are you sure you don't want a ride?"     We laugh and wave. He does a U-turn in the middle of the wet highway and drives away for good.     It is still raining when I walk through my first town, Watonga. Cars pass, their wipers slapping at the cold spring rain, but I am dry inside my rain suit. There are no people on the streets. My view of the town is limited: a short mile of houses and gas stations, a grain elevator, and a set of railroad tracks. North of town I leave the U.S. highway and take a smaller, paved road that rises slowly to a low ridge. There are more trees than I had imagined there would be; most hilltops and valleys are lined with them. A pickup truck passes by. The rancher inside eyes me suspiciously. I wave. He brightens, waves back, and dismisses me.     It is still raining an hour later. A school bus passes me and stops a quarter mile ahead. Three kids whirlwind out of the bus, across the wet highway, and up to a house set behind some trees. When I come up to the house there is a young man about twenty-five playing tag with the three children in the soft rain. He has long black hair and a straight, angular face. An Indian. He is so occupied with the game that he does not notice me until he nearly runs into me on the highway. He sees me and then does a double take.     "Hey, you guys, come!" he calls to the children. "A hiker!"     They gather around me, the children cautiously inspecting my pack and rain suit while the young man asks me why I am walking. I tell him, prepared to explain how Little Wolf and Dull Knife and others led the Northern Cheyennes north, but he cuts me off. He knows all about the story.     "I'm a Southern Cheyenne," he says. "I have relatives in Montana. Are you going to Sturgis? They say Little Wolf went there on his way north."     "I hope to," I say. "I want to go to Bear Butte."     "That's the Sioux name for it," he says. "We Cheyennes call it Noahvose: it means `Teaching hill' or `Place where people were taught.'" He holds out a big hand. "My name is Cecil Black. I'm a descendant of Black Kettle." He is nearly hopping around with energy, his dark eyes full of excitement and promise. "You gotta meet my mom," he says suddenly and darts away into the house, the three children following him.     I stand on the highway, dripping and staring at the comfortable house in disbelief. On the first day of my hike the first person I meet is Cheyenne -- a descendant of Black Kettle, no less.     Black Kettle was one of the most significant chiefs in Cheyenne history. He was a Southern Cheyenne leader who had signed the Treaty of Fort Wise in 1861, reducing a vast territory originally ceded to the Cheyennes to a small reservation in southeastern Colorado. Three years later, however, fear of the Indians was high, and rumors were spreading among the pioneers of Colorado that the Cheyennes planned to rejoin their northern relatives and start a war against the whites. That spring a number of incidents between whites and Cheyennes intensified the fears. An order was issued by the leader of the Colorado Volunteers, Colonel John M. Chivington, to "kill Cheyenne whenever and wherever found."     On November 29, 1864, Black Kettle was one of the leaders of a band of five hundred Cheyennes who were camped on Sand Creek at the edge of their Colorado reservation. Two-thirds of the group were women and children. They had chosen the spot because Black Kettle had been assured by army officers that here they would be safe. At dawn the women were awake and starting the breakfast fires when they heard what they assumed was a large herd of buffalo moving toward them. It was Chivington and seven hundred Colorado Volunteers. Chivington's last order before he sounded the charge was to take no prisoners.     At the first gunshot, Black Kettle ran from his tepee, past the white flag of truce and the American flag he always flew. Years later an eyewitness told a writer: Children were brained and hacked to pieces, pregnant women were ripped open, stiffened corpses of men, women and children the next day were scalped, dismembered and indecently mutilated, and the bloody scalps and members hung at saddle bows and hatbands and carried into Denver and there paraded in a public theater.     Of the 137 Cheyennes who were killed, 28 were men and l09 were women and children. Black Kettle survived Sand Creek only to be killed a few years later in another battle with whites, this one on the banks of the Washita River in Oklahoma. His village was attacked again, this time by George Armstrong Custer, who had followed the trail of a war party to the Washita, even though most of the people there were Black Kettle's peaceful followers.     To the Cheyennes, Black Kettle is considered one of the most powerful and spiritual men to have ever walked this earth. A report in the Wichita Eagle said his hand had never been raised against any human being. His life had been spent in trying to preserve peace between his people and his oppressors.     In a moment Cecil returns, followed by a small, older woman wearing a shawl draped over her shoulders.     "Mom, this guy is walking to South Dakota. He's following Little Wolf and Dull Knife's route."     Roberta Black nods at me and as I speak, but she politely makes no eye contact. She asks if I have talked to anyone from the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana, and when l tell her yes she nods again, gently correcting my pronunciation of names. She seems to know them all, though they are a thousand miles distant.     "Cecil tells me you are related to Black Kettle," I say.     She nods matter-of-factly, and a hint of a smile flashes over her face. "Where are you spending the night?" she asks.     "Roman Nose State Park," I tell her, and add, "but my legs are so tired I don't know if I can make it these last couple of miles, much less all the way to South Dakota."     "Oh, you'll make it." She is staring off over the hills in the distance. "I'll say a prayer. You'll make it."     We part, and I walk down the road, buoyed by this chance meeting on the empty high plains of Oklahoma.     With two miles to go I stop and remove the pack for the first time. My shoulders, back, and legs ache, but what is most fascinating is how my body is absolutely drained. It isn't even how every part of me is fatigued but the wholeness of the exhaustion that intrigues me. I eat a snack and hoist the backpack once more for the final trek to camp.     Roman Nose State Park is invisible. To see it you must approach across the low, flat, largely featureless plains of north central Oklahoma until, unannounced and sudden, the land drops away into a series of canyons and coulees, thick with oak and willow and pine.     I walk down into the canyon, past the deserted park headquarters and nearly empty resort building perched between a golf course and a reservoir. I walk into the resort to call my family. The phone rings and rings, and when it answers I hear nothing but my own voice on the answering machine. My heart falls, but I try to make my voice sound upbeat and carefree. I hang up and walk on. At the bottom of the canyon, along a shallow, flat creek, I set up camp in the small group of cottonwoods. Tomorrow's route, out of the canyon, is up a steep road to the west, but I do not think of that as I set up camp and prepare my first meal: freeze-dried lasagna.     Just as I finish eating, a car winds down the canyon road, slows, then pulls into my camp. A tall, serious-faced man about forty climbs out. "I'm Daryl Rice," he says, shaking my hand. "I'm a reporter for the Watonga paper. I heard you were in the area, and thought I'd check here."     Although he moved away for twenty years, Rice is a Watonga native. He's lived back home for the last eleven years, where he is the only reporter for the Watonga paper. He knows a lot about the Cheyennes and the Arapahos who populate the area.     "Oh, there are several people you should meet," he says, telling me the names of local people who could tell me about the Cheyennes. He asks if I visited the tribal headquarters in El Reno. He says I should meet an important tribal historian, although "he might not be worthwhile, since he's had troubles in recent years with alcohol." It turns out that another important person works for the stables right here in the park. "Let's go see if he's here," Rice says, and we shove aside the notebooks, gum wrappers, camera supplies, and cassette tapes of country music on the seat of his vintage 1980s car and drive up a shallow dirt road to the stables. There is a sprig of blue-green sage on the dashboard.     At the stables a lanky handlebar-mustachioed wrangler strolls over to chat. Rice leans on a wooden fence post. "I was hoping to introduce this guy to Ralph," he says, after introducing me and my hike. But the wrangler tells us that Ralph is gone for the day. On the drive back to my campsite, I turn to Rice. "Who was this guy you wanted me to meet?" I ask.     "Ralph Black," Rice says. "His family lives just a ways outside the park entrance."     "I met some Blacks, Cecil and Roberta." I say.     "That's his aunt, I believe," Rice says. "Well, too bad you missed him, but Roberta was a good person to meet. She'll watch after you in her players." We reach my tent, and Rice rests his wrists over the edge of the wheel while the car idles.     "This land was the allotment for the Henry Roman Nose family," Rice says. "His family settled on this land." He nods just upstream from my tent. "You picked a special place to camp. His cabin was just over there in those trees." He leans across the seat to shake my hand. "Well," Rice says, "good luck on your walk." He glances at his reporter's notebook. "This worked out just right," he says. "Just right."     I shut the door and wave as he pulls away. A vague fear and apprehension that had been with me since driving through Oklahoma City the night before has briefly lifted, and I am asleep in my tent before the sound of his car has crested the distant canyon top. In the morning, though, the sky is black with dark storms. Copyright © 1999 University of Nebraska Press. All rights reserved.