Mahnomen, MN (Sept. 21, 2011) – It was moving to see a group of people, diverse of tribe, ethnicity, and age, unite together in prayer to ask for spiritual, physical, and emotional healing for others.
Seated on the floor of White Earth Tribal and Community College were about 20 Native elementary school children (from the Pine Point School in Ponsford, MN), who were solemn and engaged. I thought, “These prayers are for you — that you may inherit a better world.” The children also represent hope for the future of the Ojibwe tribe.
Tribal regalia was not worn by Ojibwe participants. The blessing was provided by tribal elder Andrew Favorite, a former Native American studies professor at White Earth College. He was assisted by Anthony LaFramboise, who is the College’s current Native American studies faculty member.
Professor LaFramboise circulated smudge and offered all attendees an opportunity to purify themselves and pray.
After the smudging, Professor Favorite noted the significance of the occasion. He prayed for peace and healing among all people, of all heritages.
There was a pipe ceremony — and it was offered to the blessing’s special guests.
A spirit dish also was prepared for a feast that followed the ceremony. A small portion of every item of the feast was placed in a bowl or plate and by tradition, was taken to the Wild Rice River behind the College (which provides a natural setting to offer food to the spirits).
This was the first time I have seen an authentic totem pole, and I was moved by its symbolism, size, and beauty. I was impressed by the dedication of the persons who accompanied healing totem artist Jewell James.
Library Technician, Instructional Technologist
White Earth Tribal and Community College