By Susan Naramore Maher
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Extra info for Deep Map Country : Literary Cartography of the Great Plains
In her essays, Hasselstrom’s prose follows a quest to honor the land that has carried her family and that has given birth to the author’s creative spirit. Writers Sharon Butala and Julene Bair, Plainsdaughters themselves, work in parallel from their own home places in Kansas and Saskatchewan. ”79 They aren’t woodlands. They aren’t mountains. They aren’t bespeckled by lakes. 80 To the majority of Americans who do not live on the Plains, and merely drive through them, they aren’t much of anything.
105 As girls Bair and Hasselstrom rode their horses over the Plains, extending their understanding of the landscape and of their identities as Plainsdaughters. Indeed, both authors feature photographs of themselves with horses to underscore this empowered connection to the land. Yet life has worked to distance them from home place. First, strong, patriarchal fathers could never see their daughters as true heirs of place. Continued connection to ranch or farm depended upon husbands or male children.
Continuing efforts to define the region—the prairies as the ultimate ecological system, the romance or the reality of the plains frontier, the Great Plains wheat acreage as the ideal family farm—provide a kind of litmus test for the nation’s state of mind. Diane Dufva Quantic, The Nature of the Place In The Way to Rainy Mountain, N. Scott Momaday proclaims, “[o]nce in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth, I believe. ”1 Momaday’s incantational passage speaks to memory that is tangible, that is tied to a landscape that one can touch and hear, a landscape that is shared through generations with other species and that imprints its elemental forces upon the minds of dwellers.