But not everyone who leaves the reservation comes home
Mary Baker sits outside her home in the University Villages with her two children, Anthony and Joslyn. She grew up on the Fort Peck Reservation, and has lived in Missoula for three years. Photo by Mary Rizos.
“I would never go back.”
Mary Baker is adamant that she has no desire and no reason to go back to the Fort Peck reservation where she grew up. Missoula is where she’ll stay, and where she’ll raise her family. She is strong, clear-minded, independent. She is a full-time student, a Sioux, a wife, a mother. Twenty-six years old, she says that moving to Missoula from Poplar three years ago was, for her and her husband, a matter of life and death.
“We had to get away from the reservation so we could save ourselves,” she says of her struggle against alcoholism and inertia in a place of poverty, unemployment, and violence. Of Montana’s seven reservations, nearly all have unemployment rates over 50%, and alcoholism is a serious and all-too-common problem.