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Betty Nora Flying

May 2, 2021


I bought an app for my phone so I can scan color negatives to make color positive prints.  I don’t know if it’s the best of its kind, so I’m not going to advertise here.  The quality of the positive image is not excellent, but fairly good.  Colors are approximate and the resultant image doesn’t have anywhere near the detail.  

However, I quickly ran to my collection of negatives.  I keep them carefully filed away with notes on many of them.  My photo prints are almost useless because they are jumbled together, thousands of them.  Moreover, I’ve given away most of the good images so I end up with a thousand blurry, boring, crappy. . . you get the idea.

One image I liked, particularly, was one of Nora Betty Flying.  She lived to be an old woman in a bright little blue house set way back from the road between Busby and Muddy Cluster on highway 212 to Lame Deer.  I knew her kids.  

In fact her daughter, Mary Jane Flying, was our first pharmacy technician at the Indian Health Service clinic in Lame Deer.  And this was in 1988 because of the generosity of her boss, Lynwood Tallbull.  He allowed her to come help us. 

At first, the pharmacist at the time, Bill Schuman, wouldn’t let her into the pharmacy itself, but kept her outside the door for her to dole out OTCs like Tylenol to those requesting them. 

Bill worked solo to prepare and dispense the prescriptions.  He prepared anywhere from 50-100 prescriptions daily. He was known for breaking telephones and strewing pills when he became enraged, although I never witnessed it.

Maybe you don’t know how the IHS works.  If you do, skip this paragraph.  Enrolled natives can receive care, including prescriptions, doctor and dental and optometry visits, free of charge.  It is pure socialized medicine.  The drawback is the clinic is always poorly funded.  Another drawback is the clinic is usually packed with patients seeking care.  However, the mission statement has always been to elevate the health of the indigenous people to the highest level possible.  I never saw us achieve that goal, but many of us tried as hard as we could.

Anyhow, Bill Schuman soon transferred to the Coast Guard and I eventually joined the IHS and ran the pharmacy, so I asked Lynwood to allow Mary Jane Flying to work right in the pharmacy.  Her job was to count out and pour the medicines into bottles after I made the labels.  Then I would check Mary Jane’s work and give the medicine to the patients.  We could get the prescriptions done more quickly, the two of us.  Mary Jane was a fast learner.

Soon Mary Jane asked for my pharmacy name tag so her mother could bead it.  Of course I gave her $35 for her trouble.  Then I had her make some moccasins for my newborn grandson.

That’s how I became acquainted with Nora Betty Flying, Mary Jane’s mother. 

She was willing to sit while I photographed her.

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