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For nearly a century, the Indians on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming have been battling their white farmer neighbors over the rights to the Wind River. What You See in Clear Water tells the story of this epic struggle, shedding light on the ongoing conflict over water rights in the American West, one of the most divisive and essential issues in America today.
While lawyers argued this landmark case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Geoffrey O’Gara walked the banks of the river with the farmers, ranchers, biologists, and tribal elders who knew it intimately. Reading his account, we come to know the impoverished Shoshone and Arapaho tribes living on the Wind River Reservation, who believe that by treaty they control the water within the reservation. We also meet the farmers who have struggled for decades to scratch a living from the arid soil, and who want to divert the river water to irrigate their lands. O’Gara’s empathetic portrayal of life in the West today, the historical texture he brings to the land and its inhabitants, and the common humanity he finds between hostile neighbors on opposite sides of the river make What You See in Clear Water an unusually rich and rewarding book.
“A clear-eyed portrait of Westerners trying to pull a living from a difficult land” -- Outside
“A rare blend of fact and emotion that will inform and move readers.” —Dallas Morning News
“O’Gara is a lyrical writer when sketching pictures of the land. He is fair and evenhanded . . . [and] lets his characters have their say.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A terrific book by a writer patient and sympathetic enough to air all the complex issues, the triumphs and failures, without judging anybody” -- William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky