National Geographic : 1977 Jul
game and rice-the freedom to live and worship in the Indian way. The St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers are becoming wild again. And it is our hope to be come one united tribe again, across the two sides of our river, as we once were." TODAY THE ST. CROIX is an as set for its own sake-no longer for its wild rice or furs or timber, nor for other purposes of man's pocketbook, but now for his silence and his soul. Many citizens actively help the co operating governments to improve the quality of wilderness experience. The St. Croix River Association is a col lection of people who cherish the river's beauty and solitude. One member, Mary Jane Leonard, told me: "The St. Croix Valley is like peace. One comes to resent even an airplane whining overhead, though those of us on the lower river, where motorboats and water-skiers are al lowed, must learn to live with noise." Mary Jane has retired to a two-level chalet on the river, and on weekends she canoes its quiet upstream waters, plying a paddle in a way that belies her 77 years. Sigurd Olson, also 77, has had such thoughts since he first came here with his canoe in 1916, and found and mar ried a farm girl named Elizabeth Uhren holdt, who lived near the bank of the Namekagon. He found, as well, some of the early inspiration that impelled him to be come an eloquent voice for wild-water canoeing and a force for river conser vation. Eventually, as an author, he be came a high priest of wilderness. "Wilderness can be appreciated only by contrast, and solitude understood only when we have been without it.... One can live with people traveling the wilds in primitive ways, but not with aircraft, snowmobiles, or outboards, no matter how muted they may be." Sig had written that in Reflections From the North Country, an inscribed copy of which he presented me. "Silence is one of the most important parts of a wilderness experience .. ." 0[ Wings of a dragonfly sparkle like gossamer on the St. Croix. A saw-whet owl plays peekaboo.