THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: given by Maureen (from Rhinebeck, NY)
Advice from a lake:
Be Clear…. Make Positive Ripples…. Look Beneath the Surface… Stay Calm… Shore Up Friendships… Take Time to Reflect… Be Full of Life…
(Taken from Maureen’s bookmark card.)
JOURNAL ENTRY: written by Peg (from New York, NY)
Our work options were similar to Monday. Maureen, Sherry and David headed back to Eagle Shield. Maureen was determined to travel with Sean out into the reservation and deliver 98 meals. Sherry served in the kitchen and David mowed the lawn. Anita stayed back to work with Ardis, a Blackfeet working with the EPA, testing water quality on the reservation, or “res, ” as most say.
The remaining eight of us headed over to the Community Center where we continued to both dig the patio and Jeni, Jamie, Justin and Erica played hours of Bingo indoors. Barbara, a resident, is the reigning bingo champion, playing 8 cards at a time. Jamie, our youngest GV at 9 years of age, proudly came in 2nd.
Hungry and covered with a thin layer of dirt, we happily broke for lunch. Sam, our Indian driver and organizer for the Tuesday night “sweat”, met us there. A very tall and amiable man, Sam quickly explained he had a very busy morning and that he was “ornery.” Sadly, he further explained that his Auntie, an elder, had passed away that early morning. His whole day would be spent with the preparations. Having grown up on the res, Sam has a very large family – 180 first and second cousins on his side alone. He expected 1000 people would come to participate in the funeral and invited us to join in the proceedings. He explained that Auntie’s body had to remain where it was for at least 5 hours so that her spirit would realize “she had passed.” To move her sooner might jeopardize her journey. The proceedings would be mostly Blackfeet, although as Catholics, there would also be a Catholic ceremony. Committed to his promise, the sweat would continue and arrangements were made to pick us up at 5PM and head to Heart Butte.
I spent 3 days at Glacier National Park before coming to the Blackfeet Reservation and it was magnificent. The ride to Heart Butte took my breath away. Taking this ride showed me a tiny glimpse into the great, beautiful expanse of this reservation.
For lack of an easier explanation, a sweat is a spiritual sauna set amidst the beautiful outdoors. The Indians use it as a means to pray and purify. This sweat was a 36 stone sweat and a sweat can be as large as 88 stones. Sam’s brother, Mike and cousin, Stewart, joined us. The stones are placed in the center of the sweat lodge, signifying the center of the universe. Four sessions of praying and singing ensue. Emergence from each session symbolizes the birth from the womb, each emergence approaching pureness. We began the ceremony wishing Aunt Mary a safe journey, thanking the Creator for the right to participate and praying for our families and new friends. Sierra, Jeni, Tim and Todd participated in all 4 sessions. Jamie, and Sam’s two children, Asherde and Jamison, bravely joined in the second session. Sam and Stewart kindly sang to them in Indian to alleviate their fears. He was happy to have “their Purity” adding to their prayers…All who participated were extremely moved by the experience.
A beautiful sunset ended the day and I can unequivocally say, “we waged our own little act of peace in the world today.”