Join the women of the Blackfeet Nation and others at the last mountain naming of the 20th century, when the former Squaw Mountain in Omahkoiyis, or East Glacier Park, becomes Dancing Lady Mountain.
The name-changing ceremony is the result of HB 412, which the Montana Legislature passed this spring, requiring the word “squaw,” a derogatory term for native women and female body parts, removed from all state landmarks.
Carol Juneau (D-Browning) sponsored the bill and invites the public to the celebration on Friday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. in the East Glacier Park Lodge.
As for Missoula County’s own Squaw Peak, Forest Service officials have heard nothing but “rumors snapping in the wind” about what it will be named, according to Geno Bassette.
“I’ve heard Sleeping Bear or something,” he says.
A government internet site lists the peak on the Missoula Valley’s western horizon as “Hewolf Mountain.” But Bassette says the name hasn’t been decided yet, and before the federal Board of Geography makes an official change, public input will be welcomed at a meeting on Oct. 22 in the Missoula Regional Forestry Office’s conference room.
In defense of defacement: Let us invoke the wisdom of Dutch band BGK, whose song “Spray Paint” includes the lyrics “It gives me more information than a letter/and it makes the city look much better.”
Archaeologists found graffiti in Pompeii. It’s more than a symptom of culture, it’s a transmitter of culture, and the bawdy lines the excavators found scrawled on the walls of the buried city told them just as much or more about la vie quotidienne in 79 AD as that curled up dog or whatever the hell it was.
Centuries from now, perhaps when Missoula is again covered by glacial melt, divers will marvel at this rhyming couplet that appeared earlier this summer in black crayon on the front of Mulligan’s, on the sidewalk of Higgins Avenue, and again on a downtown lightpost: “Fris[c]h weht der Wind/Der Heimat zu/Mein irisch Kind?Wo weilest du?”
A rough translation (hey, nobody’s pretending to be Louis Untermeyer) would be: “Homeward the wind blows, fresh and mild/Where do you tarry, my Irish child?”
It’s a line from Richard Wagner’s 1865 opera Tristan and Isolde, although it might be more familiar to English majors by its appearance in T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland.
What it’s doing all over downtown is anyone’s guess. But aren’t you glad you live in a town so rich in culture that the standard “you suck” and “for a good time, call...” is leavened with Wagner and T.S. Eliot?
We love untangling mysteries like these. If you’ve got any graffiti you need decoded, give us a call at 543-6609 and we’ll send our crack team of specialists right over.