Tots With Guns

Joey here.

I saw No. 46 coming.

No rustlers allowed in “God’s Own Cow Country”. (Yesterday we shared a photo of that Cherry County [Nebraska] sign.)
I’m lashed to the welcome signpost of our 46th State of the Lower 48, looking at the depiction of the carving defacing a mountain sacred to the Lakota Nation. According to a 1980 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, the mountain was stolen from the Sioux by our own United States of America.
The South Dakota border isn’t the only one we crossed.
We like the shape of this water tower, and the inscription.
We pedaled past snow.
Car graveyards remind us of an article written by journalists from Communist Poland who toured the USA. They were astonished to see how even in poor states like South Dakota, Americans throw away cars.
Millie, who has what sounds to us like an accent out of “Fargo”, directed traffic around a crew installing new streetlights in Mission (pop. 1156) on the Rosebud Reservation. Our trike piqued her curiosity. We didn’t say much lest we distract her from her duties.
From Mission almost to Winner, the shoulder was graveled, not paved. We had to ride in the motor lane. That was ok. Traffic was light and motorists respected us. Headwinds were merciless.
But for the road and fences, the scenery could have been from a movie Western.
Intrigued by a large stone monument near a weathered church, we stopped to look.
Mr. Eaglehorn was the first soldier from the Great Sioux Nation killed in action in WW1.
Quick research yielded nothing about this weathered Episcopal Church building. A large wooden structure in a region where wood was scarce—it must have been important.
Beauty is everywhere.
The open road.

In Winner, we met two people with South Dakota roots.

L to R: Keely, Ben.

Keely teaches 6th grade language arts to students with special needs. Ben is soon to start work with the local police department. (He’s not a Duke alum like Jeffrey. He just likes the team and the shirt.) Jeffrey explained what I am (few know the term “kangaroo court”) and what the Rides are about. We hope Keely and Ben, whose careers involve public service, will consider candidates’ attitudes toward immigration, asylum, and refugees, when next our new friends vote.

Keely and Ben choose to live in South Dakota.


Ben grew up here. Keely’s father grew up here. They feel at home.

Other places offer higher pay, a gentler climate, more opportunities for work and culture, less driving drudgery. Other places don’t have a governor who boasts that her 2-year-old granddaughter has a rifle and a shotgun—guns mattering more to this governor than a toddler’s access to toys and arts and books.

But an economist’s or philosopher’s idea of what is better, isn’t dispositive. Home is home.

That’s true for refugees too.

Jeffrey tells true stories to people we meet. About the Ethiopian who misses Ethiopia, where he was hungry, because he misses his extended family. About the Chinese who expressed a longing for home, even as he asked an immigration judge to grant him asylum. (The IJ granted.) About the young Yugoslav sisters who beamed with delight when the IJ granted asylum, while their parents cried. About the Guatemalan who was happy in his village until the rich landowner ordered that the local apple grove be cut down, destroying the village economy. About the Syrians who despite persecution, miss Syria’s people, climate, and foods.

Jeffrey’s clients are grateful to the United States. They love it here. Yet they pine for home.

Human Rights First helps refugees present their asylum cases. At the same time, HRF works to end persecution abroad that forces people to flee.

As Morgan said to us outside the Beehive House in Salt Lake City, nearly a thousand miles ago, everyone needs a home. Not everyone wants their home to be in the USA.

Speaking of a thousand:

Today we passed the thousand mile mark on this Ride. We have about 500 miles to go.

Through Utah and Colorado and Nebraska, to South Dakota.

4 thoughts on “Tots With Guns

  1. This is a very ancient idea. Babylon was a center of the civilized world, with science and agriculture and astronomy and art. But this is one translation of the famous line from Psalm 137: “By the rivers of Babylon we dwelled. HOWEVER, we wept when we remembered Zion.” Home is home.


  2. Hi Jeffrey, Thanks for sharing your discoveries and encounters with us. When I was in 5th grade, everyone in the class had to write a report on one of the 50 states. I was assigned South Dakota, about which I knew nothing other than what I could find in the World Book encyclopedia. I’ve learned more about the erstwhile Sunshine State from your blog than from that assignment. Keep it coming and stay safe out there!


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