Hugh Glass and New Beginnings
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
As we turn the page on 2015 and welcome the New Year, it’s a great time look to the future. Many of us will establish resolutions for 2016. Whether it’s to spend more time with family, get the household budget under control, lose a few pounds or visit a special place, the New Year brings an opportunity for new beginnings.
On Jan. 8, Twentieth Century Fox will release a Leonardo DiCaprio movie entitled The Revenant. If you’re wondering, a revenant is “one who has returned, as if from the dead.” The film is based on the story of Hugh Glass, a trapper and adventurer whose tale of renewal has South Dakota roots.
In August of 1823, Glass and a party of fur trappers were scouting for game near the fork of the Grand River in what is today Perkins County, S.D. When he stumbled upon a grizzly bear and her two cubs, Glass was severely mauled, leaving him unconscious and near death.
Two of Glass’ companions volunteered to stay until he died, to bury him properly. Before he passed away, the two men placed him in a shallow grave and left. After they had abandoned him, Glass regained consciousness. Soon after, he began crawling toward the nearest settlement: Fort Kiowa, nearly 200 miles away at the Big Bend of the Missouri River.
Glass managed to survive the harrowing trip, eventually catching up with the young men and forgiving them. His tremendous ordeal has been retold several times, most notably by the Frederick Manfred novel Lord Grizzly.
Last August, 192 years after Glass’ ordeal, the community of Lemmon hosted the first annual Hugh Glass Rendezvous, a celebration of “mountain man” lifestyle and culture. It took place near the Shadehill Reservoir in northern Perkins County, not far from the location where Glass was mauled.
Event co-host and artist John Lopez, well-known for his unique metal sculptures, unveiled an extraordinary piece depicting Glass defending himself from the grizzly. A historic marker, located nearby, is dedicated to Glass and his epic journey. The final line reads, “Whatever the details, it was a marvelous show of stamina and courage.”
The opportunity to start fresh often comes in an unexpected way. I am excited for the possibilities in 2016 and I hope you have a great year! Whatever may be your New Year’s resolution, I wish you the stamina and courage of Hugh Glass. You can do it!