I just read a remarkable book, Selling Your Father’s Bones, by a young British writer called Brian Schofield. It charts the onslaught waged by mega-corporations from London and Boston, against the “free” land and resources of the American West. Within mere decades the homelands of the Nez Perce and others were stripped of lumber and buffalo (and thus topsoil), poisoned by the arsenic used in mining, the rivers were dammed and the salmon runs destroyed. The book is brilliantly written; witty, insightful, utterly alive with scathing righteousness.
I mentioned this because The River Wild has been running on TV here – Meryl Streep does Action Woman. (Yes, there is nothing this woman cannot do.) It’s an action adventure thriller about a group of crooks who interrupt a family white water rafting holiday to make their getaway from a robbery and put everyone in dire peril. In part, the movie shot along the Kootenai River in Montana, lands I seem to recall that the Nez Perce passed through on their desperate flight to the Canadian border. Interestingly, this part of the river is on lands sacred to the Kootenai Indians who gave permission to film for the very first time on condition that the actual location, near Libby in the far northwest of the state, would not be revealed. The Libby website says drily of the river:
Libby Dam, completed in 1972, altered the river by controlling both the timing and volume of flow, as well as nutrient and sediment loading, affecting the aquatic ecosystem above and below the dam. Some species have thrived under these conditions, while others have suffered…..
If you’re one of those people who’s depressed about the demise of Pandora in Avatar, then you’ve really got to look no further than our own back yard.