Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fiction or Nonfiction

Sometimes writers tend to forget the line between fiction and nonfiction is not a fine line, but a broad stroke. I like reading both, but there is a difference and it should be known. In our modern society people are often confused as to what is real, what is true and what is not. The following story is a good example of fiction and speculation becoming fact, why, because it was written in a text book, and for generations, students believed a story that at best was a terrific stretch and at worst it was a fable written as a joke that too many took as the truth.
Not sure if every state has a tail of discovery, but Wyoming does. I would rather call it, the, who was here first story. The answer is, of course, Indians, several tribes. But much like Columbus discovering America, when there were already a million, or so people here, Wyoming, for years taught about who the first, non Indian to enter Wyoming was and like Columbus often said they were the discoveries of Wyoming.

Many texts tell us that a brother duo, the Verendrye’s were likely the first non-natives to visit the cowboy state. Nice, but this is based on the fact that that school children in South Dakota found a lead plate in 1913 that was buried by Chevalier de la Verendrye dated March 30, 1743. This is a fine tail, and likely true, with a few details filed in, but it was a long way to Wyoming from Fort Pierre, South Dakota.

Historical speculation seemed to get carried away. Some would be historians assumed the Verendrye’s must have journeyed on to the Black Hills from Fort Pierre and then might just have went on to Wyoming. Maybe just to say they had been there, just kidding.

Fort Pierre is some 200 miles from the Wyoming boarder; believe I will stick with my belief. John Colter, who traveled west with Lewis and Clark, left the ‘Corpse of Discovery’ on the west coast and made his way back east, stopping in what is today Yellowstone. No one believed him when he told tales of Yellowstone wonders, but later they were proved true, and I have been there to see them.

Historical facts are just that, they can be proven; historical speculation belongs in fiction, not text books.

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