There is an odd sensation creeping through me in eastern Oklahoma as we ride. It's not very subtle, either. The Kiamichi Mountains look different, like a space created specifically for man and his gods to commune. They appear old but alive, as if they murmur ancient secrets to the people living here.
Choctaw headquarters are here. The capital of the Cherokee Nation is here. Their Trail of Tears terminated here, after they tragically suffered nearly 3,500 fatalities. Large birds of prey float effortlessly in a seemingly limitless sky, squeezing air beneath their massive wings only once in a great while. Lakes and rivers hemmed by the rolling hills teem with fish for the birds. When the sun breaks through the cloudy skies, the gritty, reddish landscape shimmers with a mystical glow, and America presents a visage of what it once was when the white men arrived.
This landscape is peerless, and there's no question that it radiates its own unique beauty. But at the same time, there is a sense of desolation hovering - a sense that a magnificent culture, once pure and strong, is flailing for its last breaths.