2011 Ride

The Youth of Fort Peck

Day 5: Pedaled a relatively short 14 miles in the cold this morning to the Frazer Public School, where the entire K-12 student body of about 100 students assembled in the gym for a talk about the Keystone XL pipeline tour. In addition to Jonny BearCub, I want to thank Dean Blount, Tommy Blount, Melanie Blount, James Delterrera, Julie Flynn for their help in arranging my talk. Thanks, too, to Jewell Ackerman for bringing her kids in the local Head Start program by the school. The best part was the inquisitive questions posted by these young leaders of tomorrow. The rocket trike was the star of the show, but it felt like my message of why I was riding to block Keystone XL got through.

Leaving Frazer, we shuttled the trike (thanks to Reese Reddoor and Larry Wetsit) to the Poplar Public School, where 200 of the school’s 5th through 8th graders assembled in the gym. On the way, we stopped by the tribal government office, where Vina Smith introduced me to several Tribal Council members, who were happy to inform me they had taken a formal position against the Keystone XL pipeline. This was wonderful news to learn. We then met with Walter White Tail Feather, Director of the Fort Peck Development Office, who educated me on all the work the tribe was doing to become energy self sufficient. This includes residential geothermal, wind power, solar plans, possible tidal power plans and more. We can all learn a lot by studying what’s going on at Fort Peck.

Thanks to Vina and Kevin Kenelty for arranging my talk at Poplar. Like at Frazer, the questions posed by the youth gathered were insightful and varied. My favorite was wasn’t I too old to be riding a trike? My response was you’re never too old and how old did everyone think I was anyway? This set off a frenzied round of guesses from the kids that ranged from 20 something to 87(!). After the event, a young girl came up to me to share with me her feelings that President Obama should be doing what we ask him to do, since we’re the ones who got him elected. As I was leaving, she came up to me to tell me the President enjoys a nice life in the White House because of us, so he should help us in return. What a wise girl.

Had a wonderful farewell (for now) dinner with Jonny, Phyllis, Jake, Janet and Harvard tonight, where lots of laughs were shared. I am deeply grateful for these new friendships being forged.

Finally, here’s the piece that ran on the Great Falls, MT CBS News affiliate last night, entitled “Cross-Country Biker Protests Proposed Pipeline”: http://tinyurl.com/3lysozg.

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