Friday, November 9, 2012

Pride, Prejudice and Poverty

This morning my mom and I made the drive south of Spokane to the small community of Plummer, Idaho. The reason we went is because out of a city of just under a quarter of a million people she can't find anyone who can do her hair like Deb down in Plummer, a town with a population of just under a thousand. If this all sounds familiar, it is because we made the same trip last November.

This time I decided to take my camera and go take pictures while my mom was having her hair permed so you could get a glimpse of what life is like on a modern-day Indian reserve. Please keep in mind there is much more to the Coeur d'Alene Reservation than the small town of Plummer. It is a place of incredible physical beauty, with mountains, lakes, rivers and rolling fields of grain. To be honest the same can't be said of Plummer. It is a struggling small town, like so many others across the country.

There is a strange mix of poverty and wealth in this community. The wealth is largely due to the influx of money from the federal government, mixed with the proceeds from the Coeur d'Alene Casino. I stood in a street and in one direction I faced this.


When I turned around and looked the other way I was looking at this, the multi-million dollar Wellness Center.


When I was growing up there was a lot of prejudice against the Coeur d'Alene's. The Pollyanna part of me wants to believe this no longer occurs, but the realistic part of me doubts that is so. But I think people are moving forward, and that is always a good direction to be headed.

 I think a town that names a new street Anne Antelope Ave has to have a lot going for it.


I spent a happy half hour wandering around the Trading Post.


I came so close to buying the tepee snow globe! The buffalo tallow soaps and lotion were tempting, too. In the end all I bought was a bottle of Warpath water.


Social and economic problems are not solved overnight, but I was happy to see that things are so much better than they were a couple of decades ago. There is a sense of pride in the community. There is new housing for seniors, the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Police, a Fish & Wildlife department, and a brand new medical center.


Instead of exuding a sense of hopelessness like it did when I was growing up on a nearby farm, there is now a sense of hope. And hope is always a good thing.


12 comments:

  1. Loved your sharing this trip with us!

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    1. Sorry Lisa, my reply to you came out as the comment below this.

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  2. Thanks Lisa! I had a lot of fun walking around and taking pictures for this post.

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  3. Your posts are always interesting reading :)

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    1. I'm glad you enjoy them. I know most people have never been on an Indian reservation, so thought it might be a good one to write.

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  4. I have never heard of Indian Reservations before so I found you post so interesting. I'm glad you thought things were much better than they use to be and there is now a sense of hope.
    Sarah x

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    1. Indian reservations are one of the dark blots in both America's and Canada's past. It is a very complicated subject. I hadn't thought about the fact people from outside North America would not be familiar with them. I was trying to think of a book to refer you to but can't come up with a title. The reservations are the lands given to the Indians when their lands were taken from them by the US and Canadian governments back in the 1800s. To make a long story short, the Indians did not get the better half of that deal. Problems have existed since that time.

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  5. I've never been on a reservation. Part of the farm my dad grew up on could not be developed because migrating Native Americans used to camp along the stream on the farm.

    Old abandoned buildings are fascinating. As a kid I wanted to explore them and wondered why they were abandoned.

    You're a good daughter, helping your mom maintain the Plummer tradition. I hope all the driving hasn't been too much aggravation.

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    1. I like old abandoned barns the best!

      I'm not sure about the good daughter bit. :-) The driving has been better this time because I have a better vehicle. I got a Hyundai Tucson this summer and what a difference it has made. I liked the traction I had with the Subaru, but there were many other things I did not like about driving it.

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  6. I've never been to Plummer before but the pictures show familiar sites from other reservations. In one of your replies, you mentioned that reservations are a complicated subject. I would definitely agree with that. I admit to having some mixed feelings when it comes to native american related topics...my mind changed both for the positive and for the negative when I started working with them about a decade ago. Such a complicated world.

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    1. It is complicated and almost impossible to discuss with people who have never experienced them first hand. I also have mixed feelings. Some things are improving, but so often the root problems aren't addressed,

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  7. Kristie,

    I googled the history of the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation and saw wonderful photos of the Indians with authentic attires. So, back in 1800s,they were trading with French. Were they trading arts and crafts? It's fascinating history.

    I read that the Indian Reservation had silver mines. I can imagine that attracted people to come and take advantage of. A few days ago, I was in Hamada in Shimane prefecture which was close to also an old silver mine.

    Seeing from the train I took, I spotted some dilapidated houses here and there. Maybe they belonged to old folks with fixed income, and they cannot fix them, but I also thought of the prejudice that still exists.

    Basically, I feel it's up to each of us not to be influenced by petty attitudes and also to be courageous enough to talk about prejudice among us.


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