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Through the Viewfinder: Woman hikes across country visiting Native American sites

Joan Fox LaCasse lays in the grass atop the Emerald Mound during one of her stops on her 11th day of her 70 day journey across the country.  (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Joan Fox LaCasse lays in the grass atop the Emerald Mound during one of her stops on her 11th day of her 70 day journey across the country. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — From the smallest state in the United States to one of the largest Native American mounds in North America, Joan Fox LaCasse has come a long way and has a long way still to go. 

Through the course of her cross country journey, LaCasse plans to see family and friends dispersed throughout the country, but also a variety of Native American Historical sites. Every since LaCasse was a child, she has felt a deep kinship with Native American history and culture.  (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Through the course of her cross country journey, LaCasse plans to see family and friends dispersed throughout the country, but also a variety of Native American Historical sites. Every since LaCasse was a child, she has felt a deep kinship with Native American history and culture. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

The Rhode Island resident is in just her 11th day of a 70-day journey across the country.

The purpose of her cross-country trek has two parts — seeing family and friends who have dispersed; and stopping at as many Native American historical sights as possible.

“When I was a kid, my grandfather got me into Native American culture and history,” LaCasse said. “I have been interested ever since.”

After that, she started reading a variety of Native American authors and other texts detailing the lives of Native Americans. A favorite of which became the works of Pulitzer Prize winning Native American author N. Scott Momaday.

Now, a retired art teacher of 41 years, this trip seemed like the only logical thing to do.

“People always ask me if I am Native American, and I say no, only in my soul,” she said.

This is not LaCasse’s first trip of this magnitude. It is her third, and each time is different.

But one thing is always the same.

“Each trip, I have a ton of people that are very scared for me to go,” she said.

 LaCasse cautiously walks down the Emerald Mound after being on top of it. There were several people that were very afraid for LaCasse to embark on a trip of this magnitude, but LaCasse only has two fears, that she will fall down while hiking and ticks. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

LaCasse cautiously walks down the Emerald Mound after being on top of it. There were several people that were very afraid for LaCasse to embark on a trip of this magnitude, but LaCasse only has two fears, that she will fall down while hiking and ticks. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

“I don’t know if it is because I am a woman, or if it is because I am 66, but it doesn’t stop me.”

But she leaves all of those fears in the dust. On her journey, there is room for just two fears — her clumsiness will get the better of her and she will fall and ticks.

After Natchez, LaCasse is heading up the Natchez Trace to Nashville and then on to St. Louis.

Once there, all roads lead west.

 

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