A Re-naming Ceremony
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.