17th annual gathering honors mounds, breaking of new ‘Trail’ — part one
By Susan Johnson
The 17th annual gathering of “Honor the Mounds” at Beattie Park last Saturday, Aug. 11, was blessed with beautiful, sunny weather. MC Leonard Malatare (Salish Flathead) welcomed everyone.
Remembering our veterans
A dance was performed to honor the nation’s military, both active and retired veterans; musical accompaniment was provided by the Spirit of the Rainbow singers. Then, a flag song was played, and the audience stood in honor of the Native American National Anthem. Sound of the Wind participated in the opening ceremonies.
Lakota elder Terry Reynolds offered a prayer asking the Great Spirit to look after our troops and keep them safe. Then, various representatives of the armed forces carried the flags of the United States, Illinois and the POW/MIAs.
All veterans were asked to come forward from all branches of the service — Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, and all theaters of war. Leonard Malatare noted that the Native American culture is the only culture that honors veterans with a dance.
“Mac” MacVenn (Iroquois/Eastern Delaware) of the Native American Awareness Committee was asked to share a few remarks. He said: “One of the things you will always see when Native people get together is the honoring of the warriors. These are people who have served their country and our people — all people — and kept our nation with its indigenous people by birth, free. It is something we always do that you never see anywhere else, and should be done far more because these people did not receive the acknowledgment and respect, honor or love that we should give them all because they have put their lives on the line or taken time so that we will have the freedom we have now. Aho!”
Grandfather Richards presented one of the veterans with a gift. A moment of silence was observed for the POW/MIAs, followed by some intertribal dances.
Leonard Malatare gave the history of a song composed by a man in the American Indian Movement in honor of the Native people who died at Wounded Knee. The dancers performed to the song, which was sung by the Spirit of the Rainbow singers.
Preserving water, earth and freedom
Joseph “Standing Bear” Schranz of Midwest SOARRING Foundation gave a speech about the land and what it meant to him. He said he was concerned about the Peace and Dignity Journey runners from various tribes, who had hoped to attend this event but had problems with transportation. They make sacred runs across the country every four years, and this year the theme was water preservation. “Right now, we are in a severe drought,” said Schranz. He had a man working on the water mains in front of his house who told him that Lake Michigan is down 32 trillion gallons of water in the last 10 years. That’s approximately 245 million Olympic-sized pools of water.
Schranz said that if the climate stays the way it is, in 10 to 20 years we will have a severe water problem. People look at the lakes, and they seem full. But all the tributaries and feeder streams are drying up. “At Starved Rock, it is bone dry. You could walk across the pool,” he said. “The problem is because we have so many people, by the year 2040, there may be 7 billion people on the earth. What do we do? I think most people do not realize the problem is there. As individuals, we have to think about not only ourselves but the next seven generations. When the water gives out, where will we go? In the Great Lakes area, imagine if that water were dry. I think when that time comes, we will have civic turmoil that is catastrophic. We need to be be conscious of how to save water. We should not be watering our lawns; the grass is meant to go dormant. If you water any plant, you should water your trees once a week so that they can continue. Trees give shade and improve our air quality. How can one person make a difference?
“I was told one time there was a big hurricane, and all sea life was getting washed ashore. One man was going around picking up starfish and putting them back. Another man observing this told him, ‘You can’t possibly put them all back.’ But he said, ‘It matters to this one.’
“You may not be able to change everything, but you can do something. We have a beekeeper who tells me how the plants are changing, and the honey is changing color. He was in Wisconsin last week, and the corn is suffering. As people, we need to be more self-sufficient, self-reliant, and grow our own food. It may not work for everybody, but you can do something. We need to get pro-active. Things will only change when the people change. The Boston Tea Party was about a small tax on tea — look at all we put up with and don’t say anything. We need to get after the politicians to do something. Being afraid makes you weak. You have to speak up — even if it may cost you something.
“We are ruining the earth with all the trash we put into it. There are life systems in each layer of earth. When you dig it up and change the layers, you affect the earth. Trees may look healthy now, but in another five or 10 years, they may not be there. In Africa, the Romans cut down all the teak trees, and now that area is the Sahara Desert, which is advancing every year. Don’t do anything that will change the earth to take away possibilities for the next generation. We have to band together and make a change.”
Schranz said he had been at a police cadets graduation where each of the three speakers said, “We must control the people.” This is how the Nazis took over in Germany. He didn’t want to be controlled. “That’s the beginning of a change that is not so good,” he said.
“We were honored last week because of the Peace and Dignity Journeys,” Schranz observed. “Different tribes participate. They start the day with a prayer. They care about what they are doing. It is a grassroots effort that should be encouraged. I was telling somebody that you might be running, and no one is watching you; that is when you need to be the strongest.”
About seven or eight years ago, they worked with the Park District to help preserve the mounds. “This turtle one is the best effigy mound we have,” he said. “We started protecting burial sites several years ago in New Lenox. It is important that we treat them well. When you eradicate the burial sites, you destroy yourself. At one time, Illinois had thousands of mounds, but most of them have been destroyed by farming. There are not many left.”
To be continued…
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