Guest blog – Ft. Totten blessing

Fort Totten, ND (Sept. 20. 2011) – It was an honor to witness the blessing of the NLM totem pole blessing at Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC).  CCCC serves the Spirit Lake Nation and is located in Fort Totten.

While I’m a citizen of the Dakota and Arikara nations and frequently attend blessings plus honoring events, this is the first time I have seen a local ceremony prompted by a totem pole. I was impressed by the intricate work and detail that went into making NLM’s healing totem.

Art from Cankdeska Cikana Community College

(Photo courtesy of Shana Potash)

There were at least 100 people at the blessing, including tribal representatives, community members as well as elders, plus college students and faculty/staff.

The blessing of the totem pole was conducted by Eugene Hale, local elder and chaplain for the VFW post.  He was assisted by elder Aileen Littleghost.

Mr. Hale performed a smudging for all those associated with the journey and shared a prayer of encouragement and good wishes. Traditional gifts were shared by CCCC President Dr. Cynthia Lindquist and an honor song was rendered by the CCCC drum to recognize those who made the totem pole, those on the journey, and the event sponsors.

It is always a moving experience to hear the drum, which is intended to be healing.  The songs in combination with the smudge of the sage and the collective prayers made it a sacred experience for attendees.

I appreciated the information shared by those on the journey about the project’s origin, the making of the totem pole, and what their experiences to date.  NLM has made a sincere effort to collect traditional healing knowledge by going directly to our traditional leaders and healers in a respectful manner.  We look forward to learning about other traditional healing methods and practices and commend NLM for its hard work and dedication in pursuing the ‘Native Voices’ exhibition.

The blessing underscored that traditional healing is accomplished through a multidimensional combination of prayers, traditional medicines, ceremonies, and divine intervention.

The Spirit Lake community was very receptive to host the totem pole blessing.  We thank NLM and all involved with the totem pole journey for sharing this experience with the people of Spirit Lake Nation.

Antonette Halsey, MMgt

Vice President, Community & Library Services

Cankdeska Cikana Community College

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