When Micki Hutchinson and her husband left West River South Dakota to move to Dakota Dunes, they knew they were making the right decision. Saying goodbye to the ranch life was an adjustment, but the chance to relocate closer to their sons and grandchildren was an opportunity the couple embraced. And despite no longer living near the Cheyenne River Reservation, Hutchinson has many stories to tell about her life on the western side of the state.
“My dad was a rancher, so I grew up on a ranch,” she said. “[I] grew up helping out branding and herding cattle and putting up hay. My sisters and I did a lot of that.”
Hutchinson was raised on her family’s ranch which was approximately nine miles outside of Isabel, SD. The youngest of three girls, Hutchinson never spent much time indoors. Her days as a child included fishing with her grandmother, riding horses or doing ranch work. It was a different life from the hustle and bustle of bigger towns and cities. Isabel had a population of 135 people, according to the 2010 census; its public school closed in 2009.
“Our ranch was actually on Firesteel Creek, so the creek was right by the house,” Hutchinson commented. “Just a lot of rolling hills and a lot of bluffs and that kind of stuff. It’s just beautiful country.”
Hutchinson’s parents, Richard and Martha Waddell, came from humble beginnings but flourished as ranchers. Through hard work, her father purchased land north of Isabel, with his dad and brother, and from there continued to thrive and acquire more land and cattle.
“My dad was born in a boxcar and lived in a boxcar,” Hutchinson remarked. “He worked his way up just by hard work, becoming a successful rancher and a state senator.”
Growing up, Hutchinson lived in what she described to be a “basement house” or “hole in the ground.” It was not until about third grade that her folks built a house on top of their underground home which allowed them to have running water and indoor plumbing. Prior to the new house being built, Hutchinson recalled hauling in buckets of water and using an outhouse.
See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.