First Peoples

The Wild West Today

The wild west is not so far away here in the valley, but then this was the last of it. Its story is the only story in town. Here it is in the Hollywood and Real Estate Version…

Winthrop,  Washington

Marketing genius in the Methow Valley.

And here is the Wild West in its unaltered version, on the outskirts of town …

Dawn at Pearygin Lake, Methow Valley

This poverty is why the West had to be reinvented with false fronts and what not — just to get some money flowing into town. Genius, as I said.

And what was the West? Many things, including a place of refuge. Here in Conconully, formerly the county seat of Okanogan County, Washington, a man could while away his days far from urban concerns and the politics he had more forcibly engaged with as a young man …

The Saddest Graveyard in the North of the American West…

…and maybe the proudest, too.

Here’s a closer look, so you can read that metal cross…

A Soldier’s Grave from a Forgotten War

He is kept company in death by soldiers from Mexico, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. They’re all here now, in the weeds and the lilacs.

Their legacy continues. Conconully is a town full of veterans on motorcycles, with immaculate and tidy yards just large enough for a tiny pension, and other people needing to get away as well…

The Rougher Side of Town in Conconully, Washington, Pop. 210.

Beautiful. Real. The West.

The U.S. military class holidays in Conconully. The U.S. middle class holidays in Winthrop. Everyone writes their own story on the land, and on history as well.

Downtown Winthrop

Money sticks to this town in a way it doesn’t stick in Conconully. 

Both are the real Wild West. So is this…

Chief Joseph Dam and Playground, Bridgeport, Washington

The last dam before the end of the world at Grand Coulee, just upriver from the mouth of the Okanogan.

And that’s just the thing… stories are written on the land here, on people, and on history. Something else was intended, but that something else didn’t stick …

What Hopes Have Perished With You, My Son

Like I said, it’s the saddest graveyard in the West. I don’t know where we go from here, but I think the first step is to honour and to mourn. And then to pick up the dream again, and the dreams of the Sinlahekin People, whose dreams were lost for these dreams to have space, and all together, in humility, to move into the earth with new eyes.

Conconully Reservoir


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