The Lights of Mobridge by Raymond Abbott



I am seventy-two now, and almost fifty years ago I lived on a Sioux Indian reservation in south central South Dakota. I was there as part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, as a VISTA volunteer. That was in 1965. My placement was in a reservation town named Parmelee. Some folks called it “Bad Parmelee” because of the violence there, drunkenness and other commotion. There was murder as well, sometimes revenge killings, but the violence I remember most vividly were the multiple car crashes that always involved alcohol.

I saw more than several wakes in the Parmelee’s VFW hall, sometimes with six or more bodies laid out in a row, as if the persons were asleep. Entire families often, including children.


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