As the drive through the western mountains continued it was time to study and think. It seemed likely the people there in the mountains almost surely would have been the descendants of settlers long ago. For those who stopped and settled, one had to wonder why just there.
We had learned a lesson in Montana near Glacier Park. The summer could be sunny and glorious. People were enchanted, purchased homes and moved in. And then came the fall when the clouds moved in for the winter and it was cold and dark. It seemed likely it might have been similar there in the mountains. Surely there were many interesting stories.
In the end it was a double edged environment. The mountains were beautiful but we could see that the fields were not rich and grazing opportunities were limited. Anything which could be produced would have to be shipped out over long distances. And, as we could see, most of the year there were few visitors except probably in the height of summer.
Who knows for how long this kind of area was largely cut off from the rest of the country? One hundred years ago they might have begun to receive radio broadcasts. Suddenly there was more information about the rest of the world but it was still limited.
Communications From the World
When I was in college in Michigan and vacation came, it was time to fill the car with other easterners and drive all night toward New York. It was a long, tiring trip but we were young and listened to the radio. There were stations from Texas, across the border in Mexico and so many areas of the country coming to us on AM from hundreds to a thousand miles away. At night this was what the people of the mountains were getting.
And then surely came the day when there was some television beamed down into the valleys. First from transits in the mountains and then from satellite. At last they got a more detailed glimpse of the country at large and the lives of other Americans. Now they became aware of what the lives of others were like and surely compared it to their world.
What Happens Now?
When I looked at this environment, I couldn’t imagine they would welcome immigrants. Life was hard at times, opportunities limited and they needed whatever jobs they could get. It suggested they might be receptive to the manipulative political statements from the recent campaign.
Surely the awakening would have been difficult. What it means for their future and ours is open to question. And the other question relates to how we need to reach out in our common cause.