Frank Denton - The Rogue Raven

Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Re-naming Ceremony

We have just returned from Bellingham, Washington where we were honored to be invited for a re-naming ceremony for an Indian friend of ours. His name is Charlie Stewart and he is Hunkpapa Lakota. He is the great-grandson of Sitting Bull. His father was the son of Sitting Bull's third wife and of all the descendents of different wives his line is the one that can prove its heritage. He has reached the age where he thought it incumbent to take back the name, a very strong one throughout the Lakota people. A medicine man came down from the prairies of Canada to perform the ceremony. Medicine Bear and Uncle Albert were present with hand drums to sing the sacred songs of the Lakota. The ceremony was very spiritual with many prayers, the sacred pipe, and eagle feather fan, and singing.

When that part of the ceremony was finished, Charlie spoke about his heritage, explaining why he wanted to take back the family name. He has been warned that "people will throw rocks," accusing him of braggadocio. The people who witnessed the ceremony were called upon by a speaker from the Swinomish Nation to stand up for Charlie when they hear remarks like that. Charlie told stories about his great-grandfather, who was named Slow when he was a child. He wasn't slow to become a warrior though, achieving that with a horse raid and bringing back hundreds of horses when he was twelve. Sitting Bull, a strong leader of his people, eventually traveled with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, even went to Europe. When he returned home to the reservation, the Ghost Dance was strong. The soldiers were afraid of an uprising, and eventually Sitting Bull was assassinated. His grave is on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota where I have had the privilege of laying sweetgrass on his grave. The ceremony was long, very holy, and at times quite emotional. I would not have missed it for the world.

A giveaway and a feast are a part of the ceremony. Everyone attending received gifts. And the feast was indeed a feast; salmon, turkey, potato salad, biscuits, fresh vegetables and several desserts. It was a fine sunny day along Lake Sammish. Before the ceremony Jim Roberts brought his powwow drum and with several others, sang songs, prefacing each with what tribe it had come from and which dance it was used for. JC Tackitt and a couple of others sat in on the drum. Quite a few friends of ours were there, others recognized us from the powwow circle. Many people spoke during the giveaway as they received gifts. This is quite traditional. They told stories of how or when they had first met Charlie, things they had done with him, playing basketball, setting up sweat lodges in the pouring rain, Sun Dance. It wasn't a roast, exactly, but it brought quite a few laughs.

And so the man is now Charlie Sitting Bull. In Lakota he is Tatanka Iyotake. A strong man, a good man, a man for his people.

On another note, you won't hear from me for a while. Anna and I are off on a two-month jaunt tomorrow morning. I hope to regale you with some tales from the trip after I return. Can you live without these blogs which seem to have become fairly infrequent of late? I surely hope so. Try hard. As my father used to say, don't whistle while you wait because you'll become awfully puckered. We'll return sometime in mid-November.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Does Absence?

Sorry I've been gone. Or did you notice? My wife, Anna, got a concussion from a fall back in May. It is only now beginning to get better. She still has some bad days but it looks like she's reached the turning point. She has more good days (sans headaches) than bad days. Meantime we muddle along. A long week at the cabin, where there is no internet connection, several trips to the race track, and a visit from a friend who lives in Oregon. We tromped around town, visited an art museum, bought books at a used book store, and talked well into the morning. Then the varlet snuck away before I awakened this morning. This is what he usually does so it was not entirely unexpected. He thinks I will talk him into staying longer and he doesn't want to wear out his welcome. But we always enjoy his visits, no matter how brief. I'll leave the story of the art exhibit for another time.