In my past life I taught high school literature, and one of my favorite books to teach was Fools Crow by James Welch. Fools Crow follows the life of White Man's Dog, a Native American in Montana. Set in the years just following the Civil War, the book poignantly tells of the trials and joys of the Blackfoot tribe as their world changed around them.
I have spent a lot of time in the native lands of the Blackfoot tribe since my mother-in-law lives in northern Wyoming. When we drive there -- which we always do -- I am struck by the starkness of the landscape. It isn't empty. It is simply expansive. The world seems enormous, old, almost barren. And I try to imagine what it must have been like to roam the mountains and plains on horseback and by foot... to cross the country in a covered wagon... to experience true wildness without GPS and cell phones and rescue helicopters and McDonald's...
Travel has truly, truly changed in a short time. While we can elect to distance ourselves from technology and go camping or hiking for a few hours, a day, a week, or a month, we are still citizens of the 21st century. And there are still wild places on this planet, but North America used to be one of the wildest -- and we have tamed her in short order.
The Pikuni (Blackfeet) tribe called the Rocky Mountains "the Backbone of the World." I took this photo in Wyoming. The Pikuni moniker fits.