Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Dave Dahl - Saddlemaker

While visiting Pierre, SD I stumbled upon the Diamond D Western Wear shop. This is a shop where time has stopped! The clothing shop had some shirts, jeans and hats stacked on shelves, that may have originally been stocked in the 70's or 80's. There were a few boxes of cowboy boots and racks of old (some faded) winter jackets. If "pickers" liked dated western clothing, this shop would be a gold mine!

There is an opening from this shop to the neighboring saddle shop, where I found Dave Dahl working on a bronc saddle. Dave is approaching 80 years old, but he says that doesn't stop him. He has been making saddles for 50 years. He creates 50-60 saddles a year, and said he plans to keep on going!

Dave was inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2018. He began riding broncs in high school and continued in college, and on the pro circuit for a few years after graduating. He learned to make saddles from a rodeo buddy and can brag that many rodeo stars use his saddles. Of course, Dave wouldn't be so bold as to say anything about any of this. I had no idea that he had such an interesting background, or that his saddles were held in such high regard (although the saddle he was working on was destined for a bronc rider in Australia, so I had an inkling.) Dave was quite unassuming, and a pleasure to talk to.

Leather for saddles in his storage room.

A typical western saddle made by Dahl

Pictures of some bronc champions who were using his saddles.

A newspaper article from the Wrangler Rodeo Finals entitled, "Cowboys Make the Buzzer on Dahl Saddles"

There were many more accolades for Dave and his saddles throughout both shops, found on the walls and shelves, some sandwiched between cowboy attire for sale. Dave pointed out different saddles he had made that were also found throughout the shop. 

Dave posing with a friend of mine in front of one of his saddles.

Another sbot of that saddle showing his signature leather tooling, and his name stamp in the leather below the cantle (back) of the saddle. Notice that bronc saddles have no horn, they really don't have a skirt, the cantle is high and the seat has the rough side of the leather turned out to give a bit more grip. 

One thing I dearly love about our travels is running into folks like Dave.

Monday, May 29, 2023

It's Capitol

 The next step of our Journey:

Pierre, SD (pronounced "peer") was another stopping point for Lewis & Clark. They camped in the area, and held council with the Lakota Indians. A plaque in Fisher's Lilly Park along the Missouri explains that because of the lack of an interpreter the meeting with the Indians (the Teton Sioux) almost led to confrontation.

Lewis & Clark were not the first white men to travel through the area, however. The Louisiana territory had once been under French rule and in 1743 three French explorers buried a lead plaque very near the site where the Lewis & Clark party met with the Indians.

Pierre has a stunning tribute to the armed services with several monuments along the river.

Pierre, in a hotly contested "battle" with Yankton, was named as the capital of South Dakota when it became a state. (Yankton had previously been the capital of the Dakota territory.)

 Like several capitol buildings we have visited, much of the structure uses native materials in its construction. 

Notice that the third balustrade from the top is upside down. This was done purposely because the architect felt that only God can create something that is perfect,

The pillars in the building are not marble. Their marbled look comes from a process called scagliola.

Over the years the building has settled and cracks have appeared in the tiled terrazzo floor. A company that specializes in repairs comes to fix the cracks. In the process they place a heart-shaped tile so in the future they will know if that area was repaired by them previously. 

The artists who created the floor were given 1 blue tile they could place anywhere in the floor as their signature. There are 66 of them on two floors in the building.

Miniature replicas of gowns (and currently the tux) of the Governor's wives (husband) are displayed in the lower floor of the building. The replicas are made using fabric and embellishments from the original gowns. 

House Chamber

Senate Chamber


Saturday, May 27, 2023

Aktá Lakota Museum & Cultural Center

This museum/cultural center, located on the campus of the St. Joseph boarding school for Indians in Chamberlain, SD, depicts the story of the Lakota (one branch of the Sioux tribe) using the four colors and directions of the medicine wheel. 

East: Depicts life on the plains prior to Euro-American contact

South: details the arrival of explorers, missionaries, traders and settlers.

The "embroidery" on the fan and parasol are actually made from tiny seed beads that would have come from traders.

West: shares broken promises, outlining government involvement and details of loss of traditional lands

North: shows how people adapted to new ways and preserved their traditions and heritage. Part of that display included Star quilts.

The Star quit is a symbol of the Indians gathering together into one people: Lakota, Dakota and Nakota all forming the Sioux nation. "Alone, each piece of the quilt means nothing. But if you place all the pieces together,  you have something beautiful, held together with powerful ties." Based on writings from Rev. Thomas J Murphy 

The display case had a hinge that cast a shadow on this beautiful quilt

More examples of the Star quilt

I have always been fascinated with Indian schools, having visited several with my grandparents when I was young. St. Joseph houses up to 200 students from grade 1 to 12 (grades 9-12 go to the local high school). Students live in family houses with up to 12 students. The education is free to the Indians. I had hoped to learn more about the school, and was disappointed that we received so little information. Most schools (that I knew of in the past) would indoctrinate the kids into American culture and christianity, wiping out Indian culture and language. I have visited some centers where focus has shifted to reeducating the children into Indian language and culture. St. Joseph has a class for Indian culture for the students, but I didn't learn much more than that. There was a display area in another part of the museum that informed more about the school and student life, but we ran out of time. (One of the hazards of traveling with a group.)

Our museum guide was a graduate of the school and is currently completing his college education. He was well versed in his own culture. If he is an example of the product of the school, a youngster who may break the cycle of alcoholism, unemployment, and child abuse, all is good!


Thursday, May 25, 2023

Campground Treats: Puppy Perspective

The people we camp with have their own ideas about what makes a good campground. We, on the other paw, have a totally different perspective. For us, it isn't so much about the camping space, or whether it is flat, or whether it is quiet. We think the best campgrounds have the best smells and the best treats. And our peoples just don't understand.

You're right, Vickie, I love all the 
little things they just don't see.

They don't even seem to care about 
all of the great sniffs. the flattened crunchy fish
I found right outside the RV.

That was sweet. I liked rolling on it. The people
were not pleased. I don't get it - don't they
like the smell of stuff like that?

And remember the flat toad we found
on the road?

Yeah, mom took that away from me 
in a flash. She just doesn't get it.

She even says, "Ick" and "leave it" when
I find rapid poo. 

Oh, what about the morning after the
great rain?! There were worms all over
the place. Free for the picking. 

Yeah, I scarfed up as many as I could, if
the people didn't pull me away. They seemed
to squirm as much as the little worms.

Remember when I found the smelly
thing that she called a "turtle?"
It was like a rock with stinky feet!

And then there was the mummy frog. It's skin 
was paper thin and so crunchy! 

 Did you see the baby bird that fell out 
of its nest and died? I caught a whiff of it, 
but the peoples pulled me away

There was even a flat snake at one of the

And, we haven't even mentioned all of the
wondrous things other peoples have dropped
around the camp sites, like bones - yum

I found a piece of blue bubble gum!

Yeah, I saw her take that away from you.

It's amazing what peoples will drop all over
the place. Really valuable things, like candy
wrappers, and chip bags...

And I found a can that had some gooey stuff 
left in it! I even got to eat a few tiny bugs
that were eating the gooey stuff. I guess that's 
an example of the food chain around here! 

Remember when we found the crispy 
cheesy things on the trail? Oh, and there are
always some yummy plants to chew on. 

I like the puffy things that the peoples say
are Dandy Lions. If I sniff too hard they
explode all over the place and tickle 
my face and make me sneeze!
On top of all of that, I think a good camp
ground has to have a dog park. Not because 
I want to run and play, but because I want to 
smell all of the smells left by other dogs.

I can spend hours detectifying who 
has been there before me!

Life is gonna be pretty boring if we ever go back
to the place we used to stay, and our little dog yard
on the side of the house. 

Wow, I had almost forgotten about that,
'cause it's been so long!

I wonder what we will find in the next campground?

I can't wait to see what's next .... and smell!

I'm the king of the mountain....

The Dignity Statue

Erected in 2016, the 50' Dignity statue stands high along Interstate 90.
She was a gift to honor South Dakota's 125the anniversary of statehood.

As seen from the highway

The Star quilt has more than100 blue, glass diamonds that flutter slightly in the wind. 
The Star quilt is a Sioux symbol of honor and generosity.

Our caravan group, huddled below. It was cold and windy!

On a hillside beside the highway Dignity stands;

A star quilt of glass held aloft in her hands.

A lonely sentinel watching over the land of the Sioux;

Inviting respect for the culture from those passing through.


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Mitchell, SD: Corn Palace and Carnegie

Mitchell, SD
Corn Palace Facts:
  • The palace is redecorated every year sporting a new theme.
  • 600,000 pieces of corn are used to decorate the outside of the building.
  • 3,000 bushels of grains and grasses are also used, including milo, rye and sour dock
  • Nine different colors of Indian corn are needed to create the pictures.
  • Over a ton of nails, staples and wire are used to fasten the corn and grasses.
  • Approximately $100,000 is spent each year for redecorating.
  • Cal Shultz, a local artist, has been designing the murals since 1977
  • The first corn palace was constructed in 1892 to show that South Dakota had a healthy agricultural climate.
  • The current building was completed in 1921. The first level had to be non-combustible. 

Our tour guide was the model for the clown. He is a Shriner and often wears a clown costume.

The inside of the building has a large meeting space that is rented out for local events.  All of the murals are made with corn and grasses. The room was set up for the graduation for the local high school 

It's not easy to see, but the designs for each mural are first drawn on paper, then projected on large sheets that are stapled to the building. The design shows what color corn is placed where.

They have pictures of the corn palace decoration for every year. 
The first Corn Palace was constructed in 1892. The Corn Palace was meant to show that South Dakota had a favorable agricultural climate. 

Even the girls got to see the building!

We also visited the Carnegie Library Building which houses the Carnegie Resource Center

Artist Oscar Howe painted the dome in 1949, and refurbished it in 1970

The building now houses a collection of Oscar Howe's paintings and an eclectic mix of local memorabilia including many Corn Palace souvenirs from years past. One side of the library has documents for local genealogy, including phone books, newspapers and school yearbooks through the years. 


Passing through Sioux City

Continuing on the Lewis & Clark trail: 

We stopped at a nice interpretive center in Onawa, Iowa on our way to Sioux City. The center had life-size models of Lewis & Clark's keel boat and pirogues. They were only rarely able to sail the crafts and often had to pole or row the boats. The decks have boards that you can see in the photo that would provide a brace for the men as they walked along the deck when poling the boats. I would simply trip on them and end up in the water!

The center had a few displays, one of the most unique was a painting of a keel boat with a rope and a meter that would show how many pounds of force you could create if you were "cordelling" a boat (towing a boat upstream). Often the water was too shallow for poling, rowing or sailing so the men had to cordelle the boats, sometimes wading through chest-deep water. 
Here I'm trying it by myself. In this picture I was able to get to 102 pounds of force! Probably wouldn't even nudge the boat forward an inch!

Four of us were able to create a force of over 1000 pounds for just a short bit. 
We decided we'd rather travel up the Missouri on roads in our RVs near the Missouri, than try to travel in it!

Later in their journey the party had to portage their belongings and canoes over rugged land covered in prickly pear cacti. 

The Corps took many items with them to trade with the Indians or to provide as gifts. 

While the expedition was near Pierre, SD a meeting with chiefs from the Sioux Nation (Dakota, Lakota, Nakota) went wrong. One of the chiefs was not pleased with the amount of tobacco he had been given and had it not been for the intervention of another chief, a fight could have ensued. Had that escalated, the expedition could have come to an end with loss of lives on both sides. 

Lewis & Clark carried the latest in tools to assist them with their work. This brass case held tinder, a piece of flint, and a striker to help in making a fire. The top also had a magnifying lens that could be used on sunny days to light the tinder.

The men journaled along the route, carefully recording details of their trip, mapping the river and lands, describing, sketching and identifying and/or naming plants and animals. This tin holding small candles and a fold-out stand was a portable light they could use in the evening, and fold up to store while they traveled. Their spelling was quite inventive! They apparently used the "whole language" approach! (Educators will understand that quip) Clark was supposed to have said he "wouldn't trust a man who didn't spell a word four different ways," and in his journals spelled had 19 different spellings for mosquitoes!

This was a portable writing case. It held two short quill pens and a tiny bottle of ink. Additional ink could be make from dried ink they carried. 
The picture in the background shows Seaman, a Newfoundland dog they purchased for $20 to go along with them on the trip. Seaman may have assisted in hunting, protection and in rescue.

Sergeant Charles Floyd was the only casualty of the expedition. He died near Sioux City, most likely from appendicitis. The men buried him on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. A few years later his grave was moved by the local Indians as the water had undercut the bluff and his remains were in danger of sliding into the river. His remains were moved two additional times. He was finally laid to rest in 1900 on the bluff with a large monument installed to mark his grave. 

I knew I Could - Vickie's A-musings

Hi, I'm Vickie, and I just had some great fun! I earned 4 ribbons!! Sweet! Me with two of. my 4 ribbons I just knowed I could do it. I&#...