Nonfiction Book Award Status: SILVER
The Elders: Stories from Fort Berthold showcases the rich history of the communities along the Missouri River flooded by the Garrison Dam in 1953.
Hunter Andes built strong relationships with four tribal elders who were willing to share their story about how it felt to lose their land and livelihood when the river was dammed for Lake Sakakawea. While many of these elders may speak to their fellow tribal members about their memories, many of us needed to be reminded of the life before the lake.
Stories, like those of Almit Breuer, an elder from White Shield, N.D. struck a nerve for many of our readers. Breuer remembered clearly when the ‘man in a suit’ arrived to tell them they had to sell their land.
‘You can take it to court, but you aren’t going to win.’ He even recalled how the man snubbed his mother when she offered him dessert.
Ed Hall, another elder now living in Parshall, said that about 95 percent of the tribal members had to leave their homes.
He said, ‘Elbowoods had everything — the richest soil in the state, its own electricity plant, a mill, a school, timber, water and above all else, people had their families. But when we were moved to the hills, there was nothing but sandy soil, no electricity, no timber, bad water – or no water at all, no school, no jobs, no businesses, and the families had been separated by two or three hours because there was no longer a bridge across the water south of Parshall.’
Pulling those kind of quotes from sources is done by building good relationships of trust. That is exactly what Hunter did to give readers the depth of the life-changing events.
We hope you enjoy the stories as much as we have.”
—McLean County Independent July 25, 2019
Hunter L. Andes grew up on his family farm on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation near Makoti and Plaza, North Dakota. He graduated in 2015 from North Shore High School in Makoti, N.D. While a student at Minot State University, The Elders came to fruition. Andes credits his time at the McLean County Independent, as well as the mass communications and engineering technology programs at Bismarck State College, for the book’s existence.
Andes earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Bachelor of Science in English Education from Minot State University in 2020. His time in the university’s English department helped him develop and diversify his writing style, as well as taught him how to effectively conduct research. MSU’s Gordon B. Olson Library, University of North Dakota’s Chester Fritz Library, State Historical Society of North Dakota were all used extensively to help Andes gain further insight into the topic. What Andes cherishes most are the relationships he made with Marilyn Hudson, Ed Hall, Almit Breuer, and Jerry White. Without their willingness to share their stories, and collections, this book would not exist.