Saturday, March 04, 2023

Quote of the Week: Everybody Comes to Big Bat's

No other small-town place I know of has such a plentiful and varied clientele. There are Indians, of course, of all blood degrees, full-blood as well as almost blonde. Employees of the tribe and of the BIA and tribal politicos come in for breakfast and for coffee afterward, prolonging conversations that are elliptical and hard to eavesdrop on. Drunks who have been up all night nurse cups of coffee they have bought with change and use the john. There are truck drivers running overweight and avoiding the weight station on the main roads, Oglala teenagers in groups of four or five wearing the colors of Denver street gangs, Methodist ministers on their way to local volunteer jobs, college professors leading tours of historical sites, TV crews shooting documentary footage, Mormon missionary ladies in polyester raincoats and with scarves tied around their heads. In the summer, tourists multiply - mid-Americans wearing clothes so casual they might as well be pajamas and toting large video cameras, and fiftyish English couples having one of those bitter, silent arguments travelers have, and long-hared New Age people smelling of patchouli oil, and Australian guys with leather Aussie hats and lissome girlfriends, and college kids from Massachusetts singing in a fake-corny way songs they just heard on the radio in their van, and black families in bright sportswear, and strangely dressed people speaking Hungarian, and ash-blonde German woman backpackers in their early twenties effortlessly deflecting the attention of various guys trying to talk to them, and once in a while a celebrity with an entourage. Observers who noted about a hundred years ago the disappearance of the American frontier have turned out to be wrong: American will always have its frontier places, and they will always look like Big Bat's.

 - Ian Frazier, On the Rez, p.52

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