Native Americans celebrate 15th Annual ‘Honor the Mounds’
By Susan Johnson
On a beautiful, warm Saturday afternoon, Aug. 14, the tribes gathered again for the 15th Annual “Honor the Mounds Gathering” in Rockford’s Beattie Park. Sponsor was the Native American Awareness Committee.
Ceremonies began at 9:30 a.m. with the Pipe Ceremony, presided by Terry “Standing Buffalo” Reynolds, a Lakota. Lighting of the Sacred Fire was done by Dennis “White Bear” Dillard (Cherokee, Lakota, Eastern Delaware), assisted by Doug “Little Flaming Owl” Schandelmeier.
Introductions were made by MC Leonard Malatare (Salish, Flathead), and the opening prayer was offered by Lakota Elder Terry “Standing Buffalo” Reynolds. This was followed by the Grand Entry and Entry of the Colors, a Veterans Dance and some intertribal dances.
Guest speaker Dick Rundall of Rock Valley College spoke about Native American spirituality and the Medicine Wheel, promoting the unity of all people.
Lessons from the White Buffalo
In the afternoon, speaker Dennis “White Bear” Dillard retold the legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman and expounded on the teachings of “Miracle,” the first white buffalo born on the Heider farm near Janesville, Wis. He listed the four principles by which Native Americans live. He offered the word “Namaji,” which in Anishinabi means “Dignity, pride, honor, respect.” He says, “It’s in the spirit of Crazy Horse, which means ‘know yourself, know your friends, know your enemies, and lead by example.’”
Dillard explained that it is important to live by our values—whether Christian, Muslim, or whatever belief system we have. He said he walked without judgment.
“When we were at the farm, it wouldn’t matter if someone was gay. We had no judgment.” Miracle, the first white buffalo on the farm, set the pattern.
“There was a second white buffalo born on this farm,” added Dillard. “Her name was ‘Fulfillment.’ She lived for four days; she was caught in a grapevine. There was a third white buffalo, Miracle’s ‘Second Chance’—the first male. He was born in a lightning storm and died in lightning.
“Second Chance seemed to have a particular significance for those who followed the buffalo’s progress,” Dillard recalled. “When we started the second offensive in Iraq is when the lightning struck and killed him. It killed seven buffalo. They were standing under a tree, and they died. It’s been prophesied that there will be one more white buffalo born on that farm. Duke ‘Big Feather’ Schallmo had a dream that there would be another one. But when that one is born, it will be hidden from the people for awhile.
“Buffalo are wild animals. Wild animals live outside. They’re not herded animals like cows. If you want to walk like a buffalo—buffalo walk right at the storm; cows walk away. Buffalo walk right into it to get away; if you walk into it, that way you won’t have to endure those problems in your life. If you run away, you will have the problem. But if you walk straight into it like the buffalo, you won’t have the issues.”
Aug. 20 will be the 16th anniversary of Miracle’s birth, and the farm is open on that day. “The museum is also open once a year right now,” said Dillard, “and they do sell buffalo meat.
“When you go up there,” he warned, “be respectful of these buffalo. Don’t underestimate the power of a buffalo; it can go from 0 to 50 mph in 3 seconds, and it can jump 6 feet. Buffalo can chase people and go after them. If you can’t climb a tree, don’t try teasing them.
“There was a black buffalo that was born there, and we were trying to get pictures of it in mating season. The buffalo thought I was going after some of his women. He didn’t want to have any part of it. His name was ‘Junkyard Dog.’ He chased me up a tree. I told him I was going to eat him, and I did. I waited for about half an hour in a tree.
“If you come in a good way to the farm, they will treat you with respect. If you go in there and are disrespectful, they will kick your ass out. If you are respectful, you are welcome… Junkyard Dog is in the museum—also Miracle’s father… The main message I have is to follow your heart.”
Dillard explained the Native American credo: “The first rule is to take care of yourself. The second rule is to be. The third rule is to breathe. This will help you get close to your Creator… With Miracle, the real key is, will she turn back white? That’s up to each and every one of us… I have a saying: ‘Men might doubt what you say, but they believe what you do.’ Follow your heart and pass it on to other people. It’s the little ones that matter because they are going to change the world… Life is a circle—not a square or an oblong.”
After the presentation, he invited everyone to join hands in a circle. All repeated four times in increasing volume, “We are a family, and we love each other.”
Comments from participants
Phil “Gray Eagle” Rorberg (Apache/Cherokee/Lakota) told us: “I’m here every year. I don’t ever miss it unless we get rained out.” What’s his favorite part? “I like the Pipe Ceremony, and I love the dances, and I love to get together with people. I like the Crow Hop, the Chicken Dance and the Snake Dances.”
Mac MacVenn of the Native American Awareness Committee, said: “The day turned out beautiful. The ceremonies were done respectfully and in a traditional manner. There were several demonstrators teaching during the entire time of the gathering, and also there was time among some of the participants to hold council on items such as a potential learning center with Rockford Park District, the Rock River Trail Project, and the possibility of a restoration of the Kishwaskea village site along the Kishwaukee River.”
The dancers were accompanied by Spirit of the Rainbow Singers (Cherokee) and Bennah Un Deanah “Sound of the Wind” on drums (Anisazi). The ceremonies of the day concluded with Retirement of the Colors as the U.S., Illinois and POW/MIA flags went by on parade.
From the Aug. 18-24, 2010 issue
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