WANAGAN LANDING, Minnesota
I stopped off at Wanagan Landing, a good six hour paddle from the source of the Mississippi River, where I met a gentleman who represents six generations of homesteaders – by the name of Donald Keith Butler. Mr. Butler expressed his love of the land and of the need to protect it for future generations to enjoy. He said that he had been taught by his grandfather to respect the land and that he was passing these values on to his children and to his grandchildren. Mr. Butler explained that “there were originally ten important homesteading families who really set the stage for the last century.” A number of these present-day homesteading families have banded together to jointly preserve the land as “a wild and scenic refuge for the soul.”
Mr. Butler represents positive voluntary action in action. People who are familiar with the land – who know it and who love it. Mr. Butler showed me a point on a dirt path not far from the Mississippi River where I conducted this interview. He told me of how he remembered his grandfather back in the 1930’s being wheeled away in the family Chevy when he got sick, pinpointing the exact spot where the grandfather had rolled out of the truck. “We picked him up and put him back in and then went over the bridge and to the hospital – where he died some twenty days later.” For Mr. Butler, this land is personal. People naturally get a love for the land. And when they do, they want to take care of it.