49 singers at the Buffalo Lodge Veterans honoring on November 10.
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — The smell of cedar burning and the closeness of community could be felt as veterans were honored November 10 at Buffalo Lodge.
It was reminiscent of older times when the Newene (tribal people) came together at the district lodges for fellowship and to dance.
Alfie Wahtomy, Buffalo Lodge Recreation Committee president, said the committee all met and decided to have the event to “bring back the culture like they always tell us to use our outfits, our feathers, our flags – they’re not to be put away forever, bring them out and air them out,” as that’s a way of giving thanks.
He said his late uncle Leon Wahtomy used to have powwows for the veterans so he asked his sisters how he went about doing it to honor the veterans and they gave him a few ideas. “I took care of it that way.”
American flags were hung in the lodge, along with a Missing in Action flag.
The evening began with prayers and Miss Indian Blackfoot High School Josie Raya doing the Lord’s Prayer in sign language.
Veterans hold the United State flag.
Gary Watson spoke and said long time ago a peace pipe used to be smoked and afterward it was a real good feeling. He recalled the veterans would be all lined up but a lot of them have passed on. “Very few showed up here – turned white that’s why they’re not here.” He remembered a lot of the things he was told when he was growing up. He thanked Alfie for asking him to cedar the food “that’s our ways NAC – our Native beliefs.” He recalled when he was little, his family had a meeting back home where they listened to the stories. He said the old people could foresee the future. They told about disease, fires and disasters that were coming and how the Newene would go away from their beliefs, their culture, ceremonies and only attend churches. Things start happening – the medicine wheel symbolizes balance but it’s leaning the other way – it will get to our tribal council and they’re not going to make good decisions, which is happening now. Watson said what’s happening is Creator is cleansing the world. Even though he was little when the elders told the future, he remembers it now. “This is food for thought – a lot of you older ones probably remember what you have been taught.”
Back to the veterans, Watson remembered when Buffalo Lodge would be packed as there would be a lot of dancers when the vets would be honored. There were different drum groups that would come into the lodge such as Snake River, Lloyd Top Sky’s group, the Bannock Peak Singers, Sage Point, Adrian Wahtomy’s drum group. “We used to have a good time here for the veterans – everything was good, I thought I would go ahead and mention that.”
After that, Thayne Wahtomy carried the eagle staff as veterans Be’Arker Tinker Perkins and Ernest Todakozie carried the flags, followed by Miss Shoshone-Bannock Kaycee Dixey, other royalty, dancers and the Wahtomy family. 49 songs were sung using a canvas and sticks going twice around the lodge.
The Wahtomy family presented gifts such as blankets and pillows to veterans to recognize their service.
An abundant feast was served including turkey, ham, deer meat, salads and plenty of desserts.
Afterward a mini powwow was conducted as Spring Creek Singers sang.
The flags that were hanging were taken down, folded and presented to veterans families.