Back to films of the Great Plains . . . One of my favorite films of the last (can it possibly be that long?) 25 years or so is Powwow Highway from 1989. It’s the story of Buddy and Philbert who take a road trip from Montana to New Mexico in order to bail out Buddy’s sister, who is in jail, and help her with her kids. Buddy is a fast talking, no-nonesense dude with a chip on his shoulder about how the Native Americans are treated by the whites, while Philbert is the loveable, overweight spiritual leader of this odd couple as they make their way south in a wonderfully beat-up 1964 Buick Wildcat that Philbert names “Protector.”
The movie is more about character than plot, and it’s the character of Philbert who really steals the show, and makes this a memorable movie. His faith in their quest transforms the film into more than just a road trip movie, and you find yourself lost in the journey to the point where you can’t even remember why they are on the road in the first place.
Along the way there are numerous Great Plains scenes as they travel to Bear Butte, the Black Hills and other places along what will one day become the Great Plains Trail. In fact, the route in the movie is, generally speaking, the route the GPT will follow. As with any place, it’s one thing to see it by car, it’s another to fully experience it on foot, or bike, or horseback. The GPT will be there to provide the backdrop and the challenge for your own spiritual journey on the Powwow Highway.