On What We Leave Behind

by Travis Mateer

Say hello to Captain John Mullan, a man who blazed a serious trail through the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a brief account of his achievement:

In the spring of 1859, after five years of study and survey, the U.S. War Department appropriated funds for the construction of a military wagon road between Fort Walla Walla in Washington Territory and Fort Benton on the Missouri River. Lieutenant John Mullan (1830-1909) of the U.S. Army was assigned to get the job done. With the labor of 200 hired men and soldiers, and more than two years of toil, Mullan blazed a 611-mile trail through dense forests, over mountains, and across marshlands and raging rivers. When completed in 1862, the Mullan Military Road became the first wagon road to traverse the Rocky Mountains into the inland Northwest, and Mullan was rewarded with promotion to the rank of captain.

This statute is located on North Higgins and looks like an obelisk from the other side. It got me thinking about what we leave behind, what’s lasting, and how things change over time.

This is John’s midsection, where ACAB and LAND BACK are scrawled on either thigh. What does ACAB mean? I’m pretty sure it means ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS.

With dynamics regarding police and private security changing–something I’m reporting on and providing public comment on whenever possible–it’s particularly galling to be turned away from attending a public meeting of City Council for the SECOND WEEK in a row.

Why is this happening?

It’s happening because I’ve earned the scorn of someone who is desperately trying to manipulate an order of protection (that I can’t find a lawyer to defend myself against) in order to shut me up because I’ve entered the pantheon of supposed abusers she’s at war with. What does this person’s war with abusers mean? It means extra-judicial actions, like secretly recording the County Attorney who refused to prosecute ANOTHER person who wronged her, then playing the recording for me to prove how terrible he is.

While I write this, I’m trying to listen to City Council online, but the technology seems to be malfunctioning on THEIR end, which highlights why I like to go IN PERSON to Council in order to provide comments. Tonight, I was thinking about reading a poem. Here it is:

After I blocked the person who is now using the courts to hurt me as much as possible, the harassment I had been experiencing shifted to my mother. This is how I found out a bullet-pointed list of 16 demands to achieve “peaceful resolution” with this person had been emailed to me. This happened BEFORE the order of protection, because the THREAT of legal action was one of this person’s points of leverage over me. It was DO THIS…OR ELSE!

When I asked what would happen if I didn’t acquiesce to these demands, here were the 4 consequences I was told I would experience:

Despite this incredibly upsetting process that had my mother so stressed out she forgot to pick up my kids one day, I continue to be VERY restrained with describing the risks I’ve exposed myself to by trying to be a collaborating partner with this person, then–and this is my biggest regret–more than that. Those risks include all the political connections she can wield against me.

One stark example of the personal risk I’ve taken over the last year and a half is the following letter some coward sent to the house where I no longer live last October:

I remember spending some time with my now-petitioner discussing who the sender could be. One of the possibilities was the woman who was once this person’s boss and supposed friend for many years, Susan Hay Patrick. My reasoning for SHP being the sender is because an NBC Montana reporter told me SHP tried slandering me as mentally unstable a few years ago as she was looking into something Susan didn’t want her to look into.

Where does this leave me? It leaves me with a lot of worry and anxiety that a person with a legal background, lots of political connections, an employer who used to be my lawyer, and a GIANT axe to grind, has me pinned to a legal cloud I can’t escape without legal representation, and even if I DO find legal representation, it will cost me thousands of dollars I don’t have.

I reached out to a rabble-rouser who I declared the most dangerous woman in Montana to see if she knew any lawyers I could call, but I’m sad to report this brave woman suffered a pretty serious stroke last Thursday and cannot speak.

After sleeping too long too early, I dragged my sorry ass out of bed to bike to the only place open, Pie Hole. While I tried enjoying the night air with my slice, some dude started going through the trash. Was he looking for food? No, he was looking for tinfoil, and when he found some he went straight to the bathroom inside. I told the guy slinging slices what was probably happening in the bathroom, then left in disgust.

I believe time eventually takes care of all things, so I’m going to focus on creating what I will leave behind, which I hope will eventually be an honest documentation of my time in this valley and what I have done to bring some illumination to the darker parts of Zoom Town.

Now, here’s the poem as a song:

And here’s how to support my work: Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), or the donation button at my about page.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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