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Location: Bozeman, MT, United States

Hi, my name is Jim Macdonald, and I have an odd assortment of interests. In no particular order, I love Yellowstone, I am an anti-authoritarian activist and organizer, and I have a background in philosophy, having taught at the college level. My blog has a lot more links to my writing and my other Web sites. In Jim's Eclectic World, I try to give a holistic view of my many interests. Often, all three passions show themselves interweaving in the very same blog. Anyhow, I think it's a little different. But, that's me. I'm not so much out there, but taken together, I'm a little unusual.

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    Monday, December 24, 2007

    Euphoric in Bozeman despite it all

    There I am today in front of my new home in my first full day in Bozeman. I love it; I love shoveling snow, love the view of the mountains, love all the extremely friendly people, love having space to move about for the first time in years. I love it all.

    I love the possibilities for the future, those that I wrote about previously.

    Yet, to remember that is to think about what allows me to be in Bozeman in the first place.

    What brings me to a new home that I love is not the happiest of stories. And, it's that knowledge, rather than bringing me down on this Christmas Eve, drives my passion all the more.

    What is that story? I live only a few blocks from the original intersection in Bozeman, which was founded in the 1860s by a group of settlers, notably John Bozeman, who led this group around the Big Horn Mountains and through Bozeman Pass into the Gallatin Valley. The settlers were coming to cash in on the gold mining going on in nearby Virginia City. As most people know, miners made very little money after those who sold them goods got their share. Anyhow, the problem with this scenario was that the Bozeman Trail that opened up as a result of this new route leading to this newly rising area was forbidden by treaty. Ultimately, it started an Indian War, a rare one in which indigenous people won, forcing the closure of the trail. John Bozeman was already dead.

    Bozeman the city lived on, and even the Bozeman Trail re-opened in the name of Interstate 90, which I took yesterday over snow and ice. The legacy of another sad chapter in the relations between the United States and indigenous peoples continues.

    Now, I plant myself in this home in this very cute part of Bozeman, and I know very well that there is this and a lot of other ill gotten gains that gives me the privilege to live in this spot where all seems so perfect. Perfection usually comes at a price for somebody else somewhere else. And, this is knowledge that I cannot and will not forget.

    My dream come true - and it truly is - will mean nothing if I don't raise awareness, start conversations, and contribute to actions that reconcile our relationship to each other.

    And, that makes my sense of love all the stronger. I feel palpably the richness of the experience. I sense immediately what a tense and terrible place that the District of Columbia is. Talking with my landlady, I couldn't believe all the things I was telling her about life there that are so matter of fact. What brings about a world where one place is so harsh and another seems so idyllic?

    Tomorrow, I spend Christmas with my cat, Dewey. Genevieve and River are in South Carolina with her relatives; it's been my mission to get here and get things set up. I am living in my Christmas present. There's a euphoria about me I haven't had in some time. Is it strange that I have such a negative sense of perspective of the history behind where I am and yet still feel so good? I don't think so. If it is, it's a feeling worth exploring; you should give it a shot.