Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rain and Rain in the Face....

My oldest son Rain, Magazu, is going to be 9 years old on December 15. I am sad that I will miss celebrating his birthday this year, since he and his brother Remy, and sisters Colleen and Amber are living with their dad at this time. He is growing so tall! He is standing on the left in this picture in the red, white, and blue coat. As I am here today in my office, I can't help but wonder what happened to all that time since he was born.  I am adrift in a time without my kids...

This photo of my children was taken by their father, Charles New Holy. They are standing in front of the gravesite of their Grandfather Rain in the Face. He is the one my son Rain is named for.  

Rain in the Face was of the Hunkpapa Band of Lakota and was believed to have killed Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

My son looks just like him.  Smiles like him.  My Rain is so sweet, extremely intelligent, and always helpful.  When he was born, the doctors told me that he would grow to be very tall, at least 6'5", they said.  I believe it, he already looks like he is 14 years old.

My children are preparing to ride on horseback beginning this weekend at Standing Rock for the Future Generations Ride hosted by their dad and other members of the Chief Bigfoot Memorial Ride. They will be journeying for the next two weeks in prayer for Native youth.

I will be praying for my children throughout and thinking of how they are riding with their relatives and ancestors.  The thought brings tears to my eyes.  

Found this poem by Longfellow, which doesn't equate to the description I've heard from the descendents. They say that Rain in the Face was tall, charming, and humorous. I believe that rather than this Longfellow person's words. But this is just one's man's words after all...

The Revenge of Rain-in-the Face
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In that desolate land and lone,
Where the Big Horn and Yellowstone
Roar down their mountain path,
By their fires the Sioux Chiefs
Muttered their woes and griefs
And the menace of their wrath.

"Revenge!" cried Rain-in-the-Face,
"Revenge upon all the race
Of the White Chief with yellow hair!"
And the mountains dark and high
From their crags re-echoed the cry
Of his anger and despair.

In the meadow, spreading wide
By woodland and riverside
The Indian village stood;
All was silent as a dream,
Save the rushing of the stream
And the blue-jay in the wood.

In his war paint and his beads,
Like a bison among the reeds,
In ambush the Sitting Bull
Lay with three thousand braves
Crouched in the clefts and caves,
Savage, unmerciful!

Into the fatal snare
The White Chief with yellow hair
And his three hundred men
Dashed headlong, sword in hand;
But of that gallant band
Not one returned again.

The sudden darkness of death
Overwhelmed them like the breath
And smoke of a furnace fire:
By the river's bank, and between
The rocks of the ravine,
They lay in their bloody attire.

But the foemen fled in the night,
And Rain-in-the-Face, in his flight
Uplifted high in air
As a ghastly trophy, bore
The brave heart, that beat no more,
Of the White Chief with yellow hair.

Whose was the right and the wrong?
Sing it, O funeral song,
With a voice that is full of tears,
And say that our broken faith
Wrought all this ruin and scathe,
In the Year of a Hundred Years.

Obituary for Grandpa Elmer Blackbird...

Grandpa Elmer always had words of encouragement for me. My memories of him are good. He was there for me when I graduated from UNL. I invited him as a guest of honor to my graduation reception at the Lincoln Indian Center in August of 2002. Grandpa Elmer offered a prayer and smudged my family with cedar that time to help me along my path.

I will always be thankful for that...


Elmer LaFlesche Blackbird, 86, of Walthill died Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007, at a Sioux City hospital.

Services will be 2 p.m. Saturday at Omaha Nation School auditorium in Macy, Neb. Burial will be in Omaha Tribal Cemetery. A Native American church service will be held Friday evening at the Native American Church in Macy. Arrangements are under the direction of Munderloh Funeral Home in Pender, Neb.

Elmer was born Feb. 16, 1921, the son of Charles Blackbird and Suzette LaFlesche. He was the great-grandson of Chief Joseph LaFlesche, one of the last principal chiefs of the Omaha Tribe. He graduated from Walthill High School and received a bachelor of science degree in education from Wayne State College. He received a master's degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff. He received an honorary doctoral degree from the Nebraska Indian Community College. He was a World War II veteran, serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

He began his teaching career at Lynch (Neb.) Public Schools and continued to teach in the Bureau of Indian Affairs Schools in Colorado, Arizona, South Dakota and North Dakota. He retired from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan., in 1975, after serving as the head of the guidance department and director of residence halls. After retirement, he returned to the Omaha Indian Reservation and continued work for the tribe in the area of education.

He served twice as the Omaha Tribal chairman and once as a Nation chairman of the Native American Church. An academic scholarship in his honor was established in 2001 by his son, Dr. Russell L. Blackbird, and is presented to a Walthill High School senior each year.

He married Mabel Veaux of LaPlant, S.D. in 1947. They later divorced, He then married Nancy Miller Springer in 1972.

He is survived by three sons, Kenneth Blackbird of Fort Duchesne, Utah, Russell Blackbird of Lawrence, Kan., and Gene Blackbird of Tama, Iowa; a daughter, Ida Blackbird of Walthill; two stepsons, Tim and Leonard Springer; two stepdaughters, Connie Kirkpatrick and Tammy Springer; two sisters, Francellia Clark and Maxine White, both of Macy, Neb.; 37 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Ida St. Cyr; a brother, Dale Saunsoci; a son, Ray Steven Blackbird; and grandchildren, Memory Blackbird, Jerome Springer and Natavia Parker.