FHBC Chairperson Donna Thompson (at left) speaks at the Community Smudge and Traditional Storytelling on Thursday, September 15.
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — Community members came together at the center of the Shoshone-Bannock Festival arbor September 15 for another Community Smudge and Traditional Storytelling.
Annie Bacon, interim Counseling and Family Service manager, said the community smudge will continue for healing. It will likely be conducted in the Fort Hall Reservation districts with the next one at Buffalo Lodge in December or January.
Bacon explained at the Thursday event the CFS program and Four Directions have came together and now called Behavioral Health. The staff that were present from each program introduced themselves. She also said it’s Suicide Prevention Month and they want to bring awareness to it. They offer suicide prevention training to anyone who is interested in the community. They also offered a youth essay contest on the topic and five entries were received. (Winners listed in a separate story).
Donna Thompson, Fort Hall Business Council vice chairperson, spoke to those in attendance and said she’s fortunate to attend – it helps everyone and thanked Annie and crew for hosting the event. “It helps everyone, we’ve all experienced grief and some of us deal with it in different manners.” She said many have lost family members to suicide, drug overdose so the community, family and tribal members need to come together and try to combat both. “Thank you all for being here.”
A fire is lit to use for cedar.
Lionel Boyer was asked to do the prayer and he welcomed everyone in attendance. He hadn’t seen everyone in a long time since he’s been in mourning. Each time he tries to come out, he feels like he needs to go back in, noting it’s hard to forget someone you’ve lived with for over 40 years. “It hasn’t been easy, it’s hard.”
After the prayer, Boyer talked about his work experience with the Tribes working for different departments. After he was elected to the tribal council it became apparent that something was wrong. He said the problem is people don’t have morals and not understanding why they are on Mother Earth. It became more apparent because of the media. He said it’s time for each of us that are of age to understand why you are here. He’s glad for Four Directions and he was part of the charter. He said the main thing is people are here to help and those needing help need to determine when they want to help themselves on why they’re doing it. They built the first sweat lodge at the program. Boyer said there’s a lot of young people present and it’s time to start talking to them. He also worked with Indian Health in the suicide prevention program and sat up many nights talking to people – some survived and some did not all because they didn’t understand why they are on Mother Earth.
Tribal elder Lionel Boyer speaks.
Zelphia Towersap said she’s been working with young people including picking chokecherries and it feels good to see them learn the Indian way of doing things. The good red road we are following is a good road. She said we have to continue to believe and do what the old people told us despite them getting after us at times. She said it’s gold to get together and talk. She commended all those who have straightened up walking the red road and asking for advice. She noted in today’s world we all know things are changing. There hasn’t been rain, things are drying up and gave the example of the fire on the mountain. She said prayers made a difference. “If you do things right, things will go your way.”
FHBC member Lee Juan Tyler speaks.
Darla Morgan said she’s grateful to CFS and Four Directions for putting together the event for the community. “We are all together – part of the problem, part of the solution.” She talked about an experience she had where prayer, our ceremonies and traditions made a difference. She read a list of names of her relatives that passed on in the last two years and how it impacted her family. She’s thankful for her employer that allowed her to take time off and help in a good way. As a parent it was hard for hold it together and had a situation in her own family where she had to reach out and ask for direction on what to do. “I’m happy to say prayers are powerful,” she continued and although she’s still grieving she believed as a mother, grandmother, community member and as a woman, she had to say something. She encouraged everyone to keep saying prayer as our ceremonies are important. “Sharing is healing,” she concluded.
Gifferd Osborne talked about his healing experience after the loss of a son.
Thunder rumbled in the background and food was served prior to the pouring rain.