Thursday, January 03, 2008

So, was King Tut a Pharoh, or not?

KFYR has an article about the town of Mott, ND being in the latest issue of National Geographic.

North Dakotans take a lot of pride in their state, their
towns, and their work. But it`s not something that outsiders always understand.
An article in this month`s National Geographic paints North Dakota`s small towns
as desolate wastelands. Mott is featured several times in this article and not
in a positive way. Despite what the article says, the people of Mott view their
town much differently than it`s portrayed.Mott, North Dakota, has a population
of about 750. It`s the quintessential small town. These streets, storefronts,
and neighborhoods could be found in just about any other town in the country,
but an article in this month`s National Geographic titled "The Emptied Prairie"
says otherwise. The article paints most of the state, including Mott, as a
"giant skeleton of abandoned human desire." The people of Mott are not shy about
their opinions about the article, its author, Charles Bowden, or its
photographer, Eugene Richards."The guy`s got to be an idiot," says former Mott
Mayor, George Jones."This is such a degrading article," says Mott Visionary
Committee member, Deb Marthaller."It`s just not really accurate," says Mike
Schmidt.The article paints small towns like this one as dying - literally. It
portrays small town North Dakota as a place where people are dropping dead of
old age left and right to the point where people are inundated by funerals.I
ask, "Have you ever felt that you were all funeraled out for the week?""No. No,"
replies Harry VanLishout, a lifelong Mott resident who lives on his family`s 100
year old farm.Through death or people moving away, the article also states that
many churches have to close their doors or worse.I point out to VanLishout, "It
says sometimes a congregation decides to burn the building to end the pain."He
sighs, pauses, and replies, "That has never happened here. That has never
happened in this area here."And take a look at what National Geographic thinks a
kitchen in Mott looks like."That`s not what the kitchens here in Mott look like
is it?" I ask Mike Schmidt."No," he says.I ask, "What do you think the
photographer had to do to find something like this?""Probably had to look pretty
hard," he says.If you think that`s bad, wait until you hear what the article
says about farming in North Dakota. It says homesteaders thought "rain would
follow the plow, but they were wrong."I read the passage to Mott Mayor, Troy
Mosbrucker, and Mott Visionary Committee member, Deb Marthaller. Marthaller
paused in disbelief for a moment, then answered, "Farming is what we do
here.""Here in this area, there are a lot of big farmers, and they`re doing
quite well, and this year was a phenomenal year," notes former Mott Mayor,
George Jones.Despite the bones in one of the pictures, Mott`s current mayor says
the town is far from death."We`re surviving," says Troy Mosbrucker. "We`ve seen
growth in the last few years, and we`re doing fine here."The people in Mott have
to wonder, was the article`s author and photographer ever even here? The town`s
leaders are planning to write a letter of protest to National Geographic, and
they are also trying to get Governor John Hoeven involved, as well.

I've been through Mott on several occasions on my way to mom's mountain bunker, the school is still thriving, the businesses are more than capable of supporting the farming community.

While there have been people that have died and moved and towns that have ceased, it doesn't mean that it's a dust bowl

or like this:

In reality, if you go to Mott's website, the hundred businesses that service the farmers and the pheasant hunters happy really has to make one wonder, is the author of the venomous article trying to make themselves feel better for living in a city. Shoot, just doing a Yahoo Image search for Mott, ND you get a total different perspective of life than what National Geographic was propagating.

National Geographic used to be known for their integrity, but the intellectual dishonesty to claim there is nothing but desperation in North Dakota, when our economy is growing when the cityslickers are running around like chickens with their heads chopped worried about a recession.

The article would have had a better placement in Reader's Digest's Humor is the Best Medicine column.


BB-Idaho said...

With the disclaimer of not having read the Geographic article, nor ever being in Mott, there is data ,for example which show the local population dropping 10.3% in the last 6 years.
Or the University's study at
projecting Hettinger County's population (4275 in 1980) at 1887 by 2020. The thinning of rural
areas is noticeable in the Great Plains, but occurs country-wide.
If I'm not mistaken, the last time I was through Bismarck, Fargo and even Dickenson there was plenty of urban growth. So, while the Motters (Mottites?) can grumble,
there seems a kernel of truth to the shifting demographics. ND is one of my favorite states and there are some advantages to low population density.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm missing something, here, but I just read the whole story (online) and it never mentions Mott, ND. Maybe the printed version does... I don't know.

The last commenter is right, though. The low population is the "main" reason that I moved my family up here.

Though the NG story paints it differently, we actually "do" have heat, running water, and high speed internet.


I was following the KFYR news piece which mentioned Mott and having just gone through Mott I could attest to it more readily than the other communities that the National Geographic article mentioned. The "National Geographic" article only focused on the communities that have or are dying.

Shoot, how many ghost towns could find in California making the same claims as the author about California.

The one town that was mentioned about loosing an International Harvester dealership fails to mention ceased to exist in 1984, but that would involve investigating what he was reporting.