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Since long before all of that, though, Native Americans have revered this gusty element of the natural world. So in the ice-black fright of a winter night, Jessie Cree, a leader of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, takes shelter in a simple community center on the reservation and ponders the power of wind.
“It has a spirituality,” Cree says, his voice somehow holding the softness of summer. “You can’t see the wind blow, but you can see whatever it hits.”
Outdoors, strong gusts push the temperature to minus-30 degrees. Indoors, fluorescent bulbs glow over Cree and a circle of men and women preparing to pray for endurance during the harshest season. As hands strike drums in the center of the circle, Matthew Orcutt, 28, bellows the first words of a long-sung song of survival.