Claudeo Broncho speaks during the February 18 Community Prayer Ceremony.
By LORI ANN EDMO
GIBSON — Close to 100 community members came together February 18 to conduct a Community Prayer Ceremony at Eagle Lodge.
Prayer songs were sung, attendees were smudged with cedar and doza and various people shared their heartfelt stories of grief, pain or healing.
Organizer LaGrand Coby said, “It’s good we’re here to talk about our community and helping out.” Tribal elders asked if he would put the ceremony on because of the recent deaths and tragedy that occurred in the community. He said a number of years ago, when his drum group Spring Creek was young, they would come to Eagle Lodge and sing in the winter months for veterans and it was good.
Four Directions Treatment Center Director Donna Honena said it was good LaGrand helped organize the ceremony because our people are needing prayer to help our community. She explained the War Staff the staff received in Wyoming and the Traveling War Staff – Journey to Healing our Community prayer ceremony February 24 starting at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Events Center that is also traveling to every Reservation District.
LaGrand said there’s a lot of people out there that are sick or hurting and are in need of prayer. He encouraged people to refrain from being negative. Lionel Boyer gave the opening prayer.
Alene Menta said it’s important to talk about the truth about who you are as she spoke in both Shoshone and English. She said 22 years ago when the late Delbert Farmer was chairman, people gathered in a war against drugs, they called upon Don Coyhis to come in and help the community. It went strong for about two years and it was called the Healing Rains group. It eventually faded out. She said everyone of us is responsible for ourselves and how our prayers are supposed to be. She encouraged everyone to keep their hearts, minds and body clean —watch what you say. “Each and everyone one of us responsible for our houses,” and she prays hard for her grandchildren. She said to don’t stop praying as she’s been praying a lot, — whatever you do in prayer, he’s listening to you, he loves you and she came to encourage you. Concerning her late nephew Darrell Auck, whose body hasn’t been found, she wished we would find him and lay him to rest, but it’s up to the Creator, what we say, what we deny, we see, we hear, we say, it’s a tough job.
Lila Perdomo encouraged everyone to take care of their grandmas, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, elderly because one never knows when their time is up. “Love your family, tell them you love them, don’t forget that word, ‘I love you,’ it’s very important.” She also encouraged them to be happy, be good to each other, take care of elders — get them water. “Always help each other, never forget that word, give them a hug.”
Fort Hall Business Council Vice Chairman Darrell Shay commended LaGrand Coby for organizing the gathering. He said cedar is part of our culture – the way we worship and prayer. Emaline George talked about the buffalo, we owe a lot to it and the eagle – we use them both in our spirituality, “We know way back how things came about and it didn’t come up by accident.”
He gave an analogy about buffalo when he was at the buffalo hunt at Jackson Hole and how the other buffalo took care of a younger one when it was killed. They all filed passed it after it went down and it reminded him of our funerals today and how we do the same thing. “We pay our respects to that person who has passed away and I seen that with the buffalo – a good example – something we learned from buffalo.” “We survived thousands of years – learned how to take care of our people – same thing as with the eagle.” Shay said we brought our customs and traditions to reservations that came from our ancestors and we’re trying to use that to cope with modern day problems – we use our spirituality and that is what community means. He said each one of us have our thinking taught to us by our parents, grandparents or whoever you listen to that teach us values and principles. He asked where the young people are getting theirs and is it from deniwape or is it coming from somewhere else. He believes we need to change our ways back to our ancestors. He added we’ve been taught not to make fun of people (nanicha).
Shay thanked LaGrand for facilitating, the singers, those present and others who helped. He said those on the council can’t do nothing by themselves – it has to be all of us – each one of us can make that change. He also thanked the young people for sitting and listening.
Sherwin Racehorse said his grandparents John and Lucy Racehorse raised him. Twelve years ago he faced life struggles and he considers himself lucky because he survived. He said he heard a lot of solutions at the gathering including deniwape, spirituality; learn your culture, to name a few. He said we need love our children, teach good and bad. Over ten years ago there was a triple murder involving a grandma, mom and little baby— it was drugs, crack, heroin, now it’s meth, opium, other terms.
Racehorse said he realized he needed to change his life. He talked about tough love and how the community in Owyhee, Nevada used it to deal with methamphetamine.
He talked about a drug task force the council appointed until it was realized people appointed on the task force their extended family was part of the problem and they couldn’t point a finger at their family member. Tough love is progressive discipline, if say you have to change, next time do this; I will have you have arrested. What’s wrong is we have to find solutions to problems and we expect our council to make right decisions, make substantial change to way we live.
Racehorse said he’s not perfect and had to make changes in his life. He said we need to bust the meth addicts and the homes where drugs are sold. Mexican mafia infiltrates the community, we’re the victim, they make money and there’s gun possession. “I came here to point it out, we need change, but can you exercise tough love?”
Tribal elder Lionel Boyer said we’re losing our people, our children, brothers, fathers, mothers and asked how many of our people in the past year have been murdered? That is not the Indian way. He said we got to solve it; we need to maintain our own education – talk to each other. He said many years ago when he was on the tribal council there was an issue involving our traditions, culture, songs and ceremony and it came all the way from the east coast. Another chairman advised individuals were violating our traditional law in reference to our ceremonies, our songs and it was being used for money – a lot of money.
Boyer brought it back to the council and he had to put himself out in front. But what happened? The council stepped back – they didn’t support what he said. Like Sherwin said use tough love, “I proposed anyone who does should be disenrolled but that didn’t happen – the council stepped back and it continues today and nothing is being done about our traditions, ceremonies being used for money – it’s just as bad as drugs.”
Boyer said he was glad Sherwin brought it up about tough love – it will continue unless people make and support the leadership in that action. He said marijuana is a big thing right now – a lot of people getting rich off of it but it’s a mind changing drug and where’s our drug laws? He said we, as Indian people need to use our own inherent traditional laws to have our leadership take the proper action. He asked how many more people are we going to lose, we have to take this into our own hands and deal with it. The problem is money and not tradition.
Boyer said the purpose of the gathering was to support the individual families that have lost loved one and to remember them in a good way – it’s a good deal, we’re stepping into issues that are political but it also becomes very personal and we have to think about this. He hopes the young people listen and impress upon them, “I know it’s hard.”
Coby thanked everyone for attending and said the next Traditional Prayer Ceremony is scheduled Sunday, March 11.