Best of Living in Iowa 149


The Best of Living in Iowa
is funded in part by the Gilchrist Foundation,
founded by Jocelyn Gilchrist, furthering the
philanthropic interest of the Gilchrist family in
wildlife and conservation, the arts and public
broadcasting and disaster relief. Funding for this program
was provided by Friends, the Iowa Public Television
Foundation, generations of families and friends who
feel passionate about the programs they watch on
Iowa Public Television. Hello, this is
Morgan Halgren. For 16 seasons, Living in
Iowa told the tale of what it means to be
uniquely Iowan. Tonight we honor that
spirit by bringing you another glimpse into our
rich heritage with a few stories from our archives. In this episode of the
Best of Living in Iowa, we see how the Iowa tribe of
Oklahoma protected a 2,000 year old Native
American Village. Spend a fall day at the
DeSoto Wildlife Refuge. And take a trip to
the Antarctic with photographer, sailor and
environmentalists David Thoreson. ♪♪ It seems odd to
think that few if any descendants of the
original Iowa tribe remain in the state which
bears their name. Where did they go? And what has become
of their settlements. Near Mill Grove, Missouri,
an environmental controversy has brought
answers to those questions to light. ♪♪ ♪♪ When we
put our deceased members into the Earth their
bodies will decompose naturally, become what we
call one with the Earth, and that is part of a life
cycle, that’s part of the circle of life. ♪♪ To Native
Americans, death is part of the circle of life. A proposed hazardous waste
landfill threatens to desecrate that circle of
life by disturbing ancient burial sites on land
inhabited centuries ago by the Iowa Indian tribe. For many residents of
North Central Missouri, this was reason enough
to oppose this toxic landfill. Missouri State Senator
Steve Danner spoke at a press conference near
the site last fall. I believe it’s the policy
of the administration in this state, which is the
Department of Natural Resources and the
Governor’s Office, that they are perfectly willing
to see this facility come into North Missouri to
help balance out the overall income and out go
of hazardous waste and waste products
in Missouri. The federal government
is saying to the states you’ve got to balance your
exports of waste versus your imports. Senator Danner filed
legislation for a one-time non-binding referendum
allowing the people of Mercer County to
vote on the issue. That legislation passed
overwhelmingly in the Missouri House and Senate
but was vetoed by the Governor. I’ve said at that time
that I thought the fix was in. I’m coming to realize in
my investigation I think the fix was is that this
plant or this facility will do the administration
good in its dealings with the federal government. Quite honestly I think
this is going to be like a salmon swimming upstream. You don’t get a second
chance with the environment. Once you pollute it and
once itis ruined it’s gone and that’s it. Because of their
traditional love and respect for Mother Earth,
Native Americans have become a symbol for
the protection of the environment. The Treaty of 1824 exiled
the Iowa Tribe to Oklahoma leaving their ancestors’
final resting places unguarded. Iowa Tribal Vice Chairman
Lawrence Murray returned to the site and vowed
to protect these burial grounds. My people are ready to do
what is necessary to keep our sacred grounds and I
appreciate everybody that is here that has
come to back us up. You’re taking the place of
my people that can’t come up here. I came around this
campfire last night and I seen the people sitting
here, it was very touching to me. Michael Haney is the
chairman of a grave protection committee
representing the United Indian Nations of
Oklahoma, comprised of 26 tribes including
the Iowa tribe. Haney invites everyone
involved to participate in a tobacco burning
ceremony. Come forward and take a
piece of this tobacco, drop it into the
sacred fire here. And this way it’s like
a handshake with our ancestors. When we share these
ceremonies we want everyone to understand
that we’re proud of our culture. Everyone has their own
way of worshipping the Creator. Our religion is a very
natural one, is that respect your brother’s
vision, you’ll never see the beaver going over
to the otter and try to convert them to
being a beaver. We don’t try to manipulate
the environment, we try to find our place in it and
then to live with the environment. And still in Missouri
state law we’re not considered humans, we’re
considered archaeological specimens. It would be much like the
way you’d feel if someone went to your grandmother’s
grave and robbed it for the gold in her teeth or
to cut off her fingers to take the wedding rings off
and put it on display or sold them on the black
market they say finders keepers. It’s really a human
rights violation. We were chased out of here
150 years ago and now we’re welcomed
by the community. I can see why people
fought so hard to stay here. This is beautiful country. To my right is land that
was purchased by this company for the purposes
of locating this waste, huge waste site. We have got to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that there are evidences
of historical or cultural resources in the area. And that is the reason
why we’re here today. Dale Hennings, an
archaeologist from Decorah, Iowa, inspects
a village site near the proposed landfill. An individual mound or a
group of mounds might be protected using federal
law which I think then the states usually tighten up
beyond federal law as a rule. In Iowa they don’t dig
mounds anymore at all. Iowa was the first state
to pass stricter laws to protect burial sites
and gave the state archaeologist the
responsibility for investigating and
preserving ancient human remains. Anyone who disturbs human
remains over 150 years old is in violation
of this law. Don Wanatee is a member
of the Indian Advisory Committee, which assists
when remains are uncovered. The American Indian today
cannot understand why another culture would go
in and desecrate and rob graves. They cannot understand it. In Missouri, Ed Arney
tells the story of his fourth great-grandmother
who was a full-blooded Cherokee. Because her death was
recorded in 1865, Ed’s family was able to protect
her final resting place. One of the last farmers
told us that if we didn’t move her that he was
going to plow her up. We went and seen a lawyer
and the lawyer said, I don’t think so and we
found out that we had the rights to put a tombstone
on her grave, to fence her grave and we have access
in and out to her grave. When you’re buried you
should rest in peace. Currently, the waste
company is in the process of obtaining a
landfill permit. An archaeological impact
survey must still be completed to determine the
cultural significance of the site. The final decision will
most likely be determined in court. I feel like when we’re
here and we’re singing and we’re praying the
ancestors that are buried here are reminding us of
our obligation to protect them. And sometimes when
the wind blows here I fantasize that I hear
songs and I can close my eyes and can
be back there. And it’s worth protecting,
this land is worth fighting for. (chanting) ♪♪ During
the past 150 years land clearing and flood control
measures have transformed the Missouri
River floodplain. Near Missouri Valley, Iowa
an ancient bend in the river has been preserved
as a refuge for migratory water fowl. And now flocks of nature
lovers travel there to see what’s around the bend. ♪♪ (nature sounds) ♪♪ If you can get out and get lost into nature
it really helps and it’s good for the soul. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ For centuries, migrating geese have marked the
changing seasons. But to encounter nearly
half a million snow geese as they begin to stir
at dawn is a heavenly experience. (geese honking) From a
distance, a familiar chorus heralds an angelic
legion and as they swirl above white breasts
reflect the golden morning rays. It is a phenomenal gift
that nature offers every fall at the DeSoto
National Wildlife Refuge on the Missouri River 20
miles north of Omaha, Nebraska. Really it’s a
magical time. It’s just amazing the
sound they make and the sight and they’re just
beautiful birds to watch and when you see 500,000
snow geese lift off the lake due to bald eagles
scaring them or whatever they’re really beautiful. Majestic concentrations
of snow geese appear in mid-November but weather
and food supply determine the length of their stay. This group began its
lengthy journey on the west bank of Hudson Bay
in North Central Canada. The fall flight is
leisurely as they stop at several points on their
trip to the Gulf Coast. But in spring, the urge
to reproduce motivates a speedy return to their
breeding grounds prompting them to bypass rest stops
like DeSoto Wildlife Refuge. The snow geese will
typically rest on the lake all night. They are safe from
predators there. At sunrise they start to
become very restless and they’ll fly up and down
the lake and they’ll either feed on the refuge
or they might fly several hundred miles
to find food. They will usually stay
gone until about 11, 12 o’clock when they usually
return to the refuge, rest up again and they’ll
usually leave again around 1 or 2 and feed until dark
and then they all push back onto the refuge
for the night. Humans have destroyed much
of the natural water fowl environment along
the Missouri. So to the geese, the
DeSoto sanctuary must seem like a refueling oasis
on the migration highway where crops are planted
for visitors and native residents alike. (nature sounds) During the
midday break, snow geese gathered directly in front
of the elaborate viewing area at the visitor’s
center where you might meet Audubon member
Ione Werthman, a refuge volunteer who shares
information and her scope. I just love nature and I
think that we’re losing so much of it that we need to
work to save what we can and so when I see a group
like this I get really inspired. It’s amazing how they love
to see the quantity of geese but the minute you
spot one of those bald eagles up there everybody
wants to see a bald eagle. Other migratory birds also
linger around DeSoto Lake. As many as 120 bald eagles
have been seen here perched in the
cottonwoods. Migrating along the
Missouri River corridor they get a bird’s eye view
of a unique geological formation known as the
Loess Hills Stretching for 200 miles along Iowa’s
western border, the hills were formed thousands of
years ago by windblown silt from the Missouri
River Valley. Formations like these are
found in only one other place in the world, China. ♪♪ Back at the
visitor’s center pioneer history awaits you in
the Bertrand Museum. You’ll be surprised by
some of the things people took on their steamboat
voyage from St. Louis to the gold mines of Montana. Lemonade and you hardly
picture a miner coming back at the end of the day
and sipping on lemonade. Clothing that is on board
is everyday clothing that would have been worn
by people in 1865. We have examples
of food as well. The quality and quantity
of the artifacts are remarkable. The Bertrand was one of
400 steamboats that met disaster in the turbulent,
snag-strewn Big Muddy. In 1865 the Bertrand sank
and silted in so quickly that its 250 ton
cargo was lost. The river channel had
shifted so far that it took 100 years before two
local treasure hunters found the Bertrand
again on refuge land. The initial sorting took
at least three years, 78,000 objects which are
associated with the period and very important for
our understanding of the frontier today. The Bertrand excavation
site is just one of the stops on the
fall auto tour. Woods and grasslands
enhance the 12 miles of road on the refuge, where
if you’re observant you may see deer, pheasant and
maybe even a lone coyote. We’ve had cars from Alaska
and Indiana, Kentucky, Canada. They drive in here with
their sad, tired faces on from a hard day’s work and
when they pass me on the way out they’re
all smiles. ♪♪ (geese honking) Before British naval officer Robert Scott and
his crew perished on their 1912 expedition to the
Antarctic, Scott wrote these words. Had we lived I should have
had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and
courage of my companions. These rough notes and our
dead bodies must tell the tale. Compare those words with
these of Iowan David Thoreson. ♪♪ Today when the
wind was blowing and we were beating along with
the spray kicking off the bow I was in heaven. I feel at home on the sea
and could continue this indefinitely. My home may be in Iowa,
but it is yet weeks away, and for the time
being I am a sailor. That’s the February 2,
1992 entry from David Thoreson’s journal. He and five others aboard
Cloud Nine were on the last leg of a trip that
had taken them below the Antarctic Circle,
something they believe has been done only one other
time by an American sailing vessel. David is no
stranger to sailing. Home is on Lake Okoboji
where he grew up sailing and where he now makes
a living as a freelance photographer and writer. David is also no
stranger to adventure. One day in June I packed
up my bike and took off and a year later I
came back here and the following June peddled
about 8,500 miles and hit I don’t know how many
states and parts of Canada in the process. And that’s something that
really I guess really got me hooked on the traveling
and also on photography because I spent a lot of
time shooting pictures of people that I met and
landscapes and special little places that I
discovered and such and writing about them and
really decided at that point that this was
something that I wanted to do for the rest
of my life. On the Minnesota side of
the Iowa border about a half an hour from Lake
Okoboji is a farm owned by Roger Swanson. Roger is also owner and
captain of Cloud Nine, a boat her purchased after
his daughter asked — Well, dad, when are you
going to sail around the world? And for some reason, well
it was my 50th birthday and I was having a little
trouble with my 50th birthday. And when she said that all
of a sudden it stopped me a little bit in my tracks
and I thought, now wait a minute. I really hadn’t been all
that serious about doing something like that but if
I’m ever going to do it I better get on with it. And so I decided just that
night actually that okay, I don’t know if I’m going
to do it but I’m going to try. Less than a year later
Roger was on his way around the world. And now when Roger is not
farming you can literally find him on Cloud Nine,
which could be anywhere in the world. In October of 1992, as
Roger was completing his second trip around the
world, Cloud Nine was here in Capetown, South Africa. It was also here that
David became a member of the crew. (bells ringing) (bells ringing) (bells ringing) A week after David arrived
in South Africa under a clear blue sky, Cloud Nine
set sail for Ushuaia, Argentina in South
America, some 6,000 miles away. Cloud Nine at this leg in
her journey was carrying a crew of six. Besides David and Roger
there was Jamie, a full-time sailor, Dale, a
pharmacist from Minnesota, Carl, a mechanic from
Zimbabwe whose job was to help keep the engine on
Cloud Nine working in case the winds quit, and Bill,
a salesman from Kansas City. All had various degrees
of sailing ability. Over the years, Roger
believes he has had over 200 different people
as crew members. Experience is not as
important as the attitude. The attitude that a person
has towards people and life and also being able
to stand a fair amount of discomfort. Life on Cloud Nine
is not a cruise ship. You would think that
covering 6,000 miles in a sailboat would give one a
chance to read that book that has been waiting for
so long to be opened. According to David, that
was a seldom seen luxury. The shifts were four hours
on, eight hours off, and all duties were shared. Whether it was cooking —
We’re going to take some cream of chicken
soup mix — Standing watch — Mending sails — Or just general
maintenance, the crew of Cloud Nine was busy. But there was still some
time to reflect and enjoy a sunset or a rare shower. On November 16th, David
made this entry in his journal. Clothing, cleaning,
personal time, there’s time for all, but not a
lot and it must be spent fairly wisely. Eating somehow becomes
very important. It’s instinct. Communication takes place
around the dinner table. We talk as we can about
all topics, usually light-heartedly as an
argument could create waves, bad pun. In the Atlantic Ocean a
squall can blow in out of nowhere or you can sit for
days with no wind at all. Cloud Nine was lucky on
her crossing and logged a couple of 200 mile days. 200 miles doesn’t seem
like a long ways but to just have the wind blow
and to be able to travel 200 miles doing that was
a pretty exhilarating feeling. And the distance made good
for the last 24 hours is 216.3 miles which is an
all-time record for Cloud Nine. ♪♪ ♪♪You don’t see any
ship and there are no lit♪♪ ♪♪up blips because there’s
no one out here for miles.♪♪ ♪♪We all have our sea hair
but we don’t really care,♪♪ ♪♪each wears it in
his favorite style.♪♪ Home, home on the sea —
37 days and 6,000 miles later land, South
America was sighted. Sunday, December
8th, land ho! We saw Tierra del Fuego
today or the Land of Fire. We also saw some Magellan
penguins swimming, a sure sign of land. We also saw some big
chunks of Styrofoam floating, a sure
sign of man. In Ushuaia, Argentina, the
world’s southernmost city, Cloud Nine dropped anchor. A man in a small boat
hurriedly rode out and told them they
would have to move. It seems they had anchored
in the flight path of the local airport and the
height of the mast was cause for concern. Jamie had broken her arm
after almost being thrown overboard so she, along
with Carl and Dale, left the crew. Joining the crew were
John, a South Dakota rancher, Sherry, a flight
attendant from Seattle, and Dick, a boyhood friend
of Roger’s from Minnesota. To prepare for the next
leg of the trip supplies were stored, the bottom of
the boat cleaned and time was spent with old and new
friends going over charts and sharing
tales of the sea. While 37 days at sea would
be adventure enough for most, the crew of Cloud
Nine wasn’t done yet. They were soon underway
through the Beagle Canal where glaciers reached
for the sea leaving the relative warmth of the
Atlantic for the cold chill of the Antarctic. Monday, January 13th. Cape Horn and the Drake
Passage wasted little time in rearing back its ugly
head and spitting at us. Southerly winds. Of course, of all the wind
schemes to get we get an icy cold headwind
from Antarctica. I’m anxious, excited,
scared, somewhat enjoying this in a bizarre way. You definitely know that
you are alive out here. Every sensation and
emotion is felt, experienced in a short
duration of time. Many thousands of sailors
have died in these waters. I keep thinking of so many
things, mostly home, warm fires, family
and good friends. Wake up, David. Reality is the
Drake Passage. Five days later about 100
miles from the Antarctic Circle there was a great
deal of excitement. The crew had spotted
their first iceberg. As they sailed further
south and the number of icebergs increased,
excitement was replaced with tension. Small chunks of ice known
as bergy bits were far more dangerous than the
icebergs from which they came. A bergy bit could punch
a hole in Cloud Nine’s fiberglass hull, sending
it to the bottom. This wasn’t Roger’s first
attempt at crossing the Antarctic Circle. It was ice that stopped
him when he tried in 1988 and it looked like it
might stop him again on this attempt. At one point in their
journey south the crew of Cloud Nine found
themselves surrounded by icebergs and ice. If the wind had come up,
the results would have been disastrous. A hasty retreat north
and west to the open sea cleared them of the ice
and took them out of immediate danger. A final attempt to sail
south on January 20th pushed Cloud Nine over
that imaginary line known as the Antarctic Circle
where few others had sailed. Hey hey, what do we say? Hallelujah, we
just did it! Hooray! Hooray! As you can see our
conditions are wonderful. We have a nice stiff
breeze off the beam, temperatures hovering
right around 29 and we’ve got well over 90% relative
humidity which makes a nice biting cold that
seeps right through those clothes. So all you people in warm
little Never Never Land, I hope you’re enjoying this
because we’re freezing. While the weather at the
Circle wasn’t great, it was about to get
a whole lot worse. As Cloud Nine turned north
towards home, it also turned into some of the
nastiest weather the Antarctic could
throw at her. Palmer Station, a U.S. research station in
Antarctica, was about 50 miles away, but it might
as well have been 50,000. Roger, we’re about 50
miles west of you but having heavy sleet,
rain, snow combination. Visibility is so bad
that we’re waiting for improvement —
Thursday, January 23rd. I am scared. I do not scare easily but
this situation with the ice all over the place is
downright horrible and frightening. I’ve never felt fear like
I felt fear in the past 48 hours. These huge ice kingdoms
can be your friends on calm days, shimmering like
a city of angels, or chill you to the bone with the
face of the devil in a storm. This is now survival
sailing and death has crossed my mind
a few times. For 72 hours Cloud Nine
fought a storm packed with high winds up to 70 miles
per hour, snow and sleet. Finally the weather broke
enough so at least that Palmer Station
could be reached. The bruise on Sherry’s
eye, the blisters on Roger’s hands and the
exhaustion that showed on all their faces told the
story of what they had just been through. Palmer Station did more
than just offer a safe port in a storm, it
offered the crew of Cloud Nine a chance, regardless
of how remote, to touch civilization again. It also offered a chance
to experience some of the wildlife, not only at the
Penguin Pub, but also out on some of the surrounding
glacier and islands. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ The return trip through the Drake Passage
was much like the trip had been doing south, with
high winds and rolling seas. When Cape Horn was finally
sighted there was a sense of both relief and
disappointment that the adventure was over. There was also, perhaps
surprisingly, a sense of anticipation. I am anxious now to get
home to my little house on Tarzan Street at Okoboji,
to light this fire in the stove and feel the warmth,
to sip a hot drink and listen to some soothing
music again on an evening, on an island, in Iowa. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ The Best of Living in Iowa is funded in part by the
Gilchrist Foundation, founded by Jocelyn
Gilchrist, furthering the philanthropic interest of
the Gilchrist family in wildlife and conservation,
the arts and public broadcasting and
disaster relief. Funding for this program
was provided by Friends, the Iowa Public Television
Foundation, generations of families and friends who
feel passionate about the programs they watch on
Iowa Public Television.

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