The West's Westness, Part 2

by cowboylands

Westness is in the eye of the beholder.

I was on the hunt for the most western of western images and I discovered westness in

cactus-shaped cookie jars, by God.

In vast space encircled by mountains. (People find this openness either really scary or really refreshing. I recommend bringing a gallon of water per day either way.)

Westness is even at tourist towns with High Noon Hamburgers and narrow-gauge railroad rides up gorges.

At silent ruins.

Even, unfortunately, in genocide, in battles won and wars lost.

Battle of Little Big Horn by Kicking Bear (Mato Wanartaka) c. 1898 Lakota (born c. 1846, unknown; died May 28, 1904, near Manderson, South Dakota) The Southwest Museum

I swept through images of cowboys riding into sunsets and Colorado powwows, faded pics of glassy-eyed miners and grinning Golden Girl of the Pecos snapshots, shots of desolate small-town streets and squint-eyed sheepherders. I pondered and fretted. Do I choose sequin-spangled rodeo/cowboy west or grimly determined Navajo or rancher? Do I look for uranium, or Hollywood royalty, or mansions with mountain lions in their backyards? Vast plains or blighted landscapes? A live buffalo or a hill of whitened skulls?

Where is the West?

2 b continued….

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