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Wild Hog Basin

September 1, 2016
Lloyd Yellowrobe in 1988

Lloyd in 1988

I have barely started telling about Lloyd Yellowrobe, a hero to me.  Tomorrow Lloyd, a decorated Vietnam veteran, will be honored at the Ashland Labor Day Powwow.

I remember a time twenty years ago when a gathering of Lloyd’s family and friends began weeping when a priest administered last rites to Lloyd.  He was in Billings in intensive care after his truck accident.  Lloyd’s mother passed a box of tissues to me.  Must have been a miracle that Lloyd survived.

I don’t remember the first time I met Lloyd but he has always been a friend to me and he made me feel like I was working in the right place once I started at Lame Deer.  Was sort of a shock for a city kid like me to suddenly start working in a rather remote Indian Health Service clinic.

First, Lloyd proved himself to be an artist.  He drew a caricature of our friend “Rabbit” Hiwalker that looked like a Playboy bunny.  I didn’t know that I’d be destined to go on adventures with Lloyd, or that I’d keep cedar in the pharmacy for Rabbit’s use.

Here’s an example:  Lloyd always claimed to know about a huge meteor crater out toward Ashland, east of the prairie dog village.  He and I drove there once, right after work, tracking up and down red dusty roads, even finding a sinkhole in a hayfield that had a log poking out, apparently to let whoever was cutting the hay know it was there.  We ended up locating an irregularly shaped valley, not too convincing to me.  I never did believe it was a meteor crater, although Lloyd said he saw an areal photograph.

On our way back to town Lloyd had me pull over onto the shoulder of the highway, over the top of a hill, on a downhill slant.  “Take your foot off the brakes,” Lloyd said.  To my amazement the car backed up the hill by itself, as though a magnet were pulling it.  I figured that was some sort of optical trick, but hey.  Why not believe it was a magnet?  I could believe in the magnet long before I’d believe in the meteor.

Another time Lloyd and I looked for the buffalo herd up by Crazy Head, but didn’t find it.  Still another time Lloyd took me up on the big plateau on the Birney divide to the buffalo jump.  We walked around down below and Lloyd found a buffalo bone with tool marks where someone had scraped off the meat.  I was always impressed by the respect Lloyd had for the ancient sites on the reservation.  Then we traveled onward, on the dirt road near the abandoned car.

I might not have thought much about it, but Lloyd pointed out this car a couple hundred yards down a steep bank into a ravine.  Lloyd knew the story of how the car got there.  Did he put it there?  He said he saw it as it coasted down, never to rise again.  For all I know the car is there today.

That same adventure he showed me Wild Hog basin as we approached the lookout tower.  Lloyd’s father used to watch for forest fires from the tower. The tower was the same kind of Chicago Aeromotor Company structure that stood atop the hill near Crazy Head Springs.  Those were happy times.

Lloyd lived in a blue house in Busby in those days.  One Saturday we went fishing in the after bay at Yellowtail Dam.  Didn’t catch any fish.  In fact I don’t think we ever did catch a fish, but Lloyd pointed out a red-tail hawk to me.

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