For over 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.
Geoffrey O’Gara is a writer and documentary producer based in Lander, Wyo. He is the author of What You See in Clear Water: Indians, Whites, and a Battle Over Water in the American West (Knopf, 2002), and A Long Road Home, Journeys Through America’s Present in Search of America’s Past (Norton, 1989). His documentary about Indian boarding schools, "Home From School" was released in 2021; a documentary on Wyoming's historic role in women's suffrage, "State of Equality", was released in 2019. His current production about the women behind the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women epidemic in Wyoming and beyond, "Who She Is", is being released this Fall with special screenings around the state. Check out calderaproductions.com for screening dates.