Guest blog – Black River Falls, WI blessing

 Black River Falls, Wisconsin (September 22, 2011) –  The onset of fall was evident on a chilly, partly sunny morning in Western Wisconsin at the Andrew Blackhawk Pow Wow Grounds.  The ceremonial fire brought welcomed warmth to the approximately 50 attendees and participants of the Ho-Chunk Nation’s celebration of the totem’s journey.  The Ho-Chunk nation visit is considered the half way mark of the totem’s journey across Indian Country.

Lance Long, Buffalo Clan, was the Master of Ceremony.

Other speakers included:

  • Gerald Cleveland Sr., Bear Clan Elder, who gave the invocation and blessing.
  • Robert Mann, Warrior Clan and Executive Director, Heritage Preservation Department, Ho-Chunk Nation who gave the welcome address. Mann said, “The Ho-Chunk are blessed by the totem visit and honored to hear the Lummi language spoken and to share in their culture.”
  • John Greendeer, President, Ho-Chunk Nation. Greendeer said “The totem is important because it represents traditional healing and medicine.  The totem represents healing which is much needed today.  It is a great honor that the totem is shared with the Ho-Chunk.
  • Tribal Elder Gordon Thunder, of the Thunder Clan, performed a traditional Ho-Chunk healing ceremony for the totem.  In his opening comments, Thunder said, “We all know someone in need of healing. The Ho-Chunk add their prayers to those already performed for the totem.”

The Hiwasipi Singers, a drum circle of ten men, drummed and sang an honor song for the totem; the music was hauntingly beautiful.

         The Hiwasipi Singers’ drum circle

         (Photo: courtesy Melinda Orebaugh)

It was an honor to be present with members of the Ho-Chunk, Lummi, Dine, and Lakota- Dakota nations for the totem’s Ho-Chunk honor/blessing ceremony.  The respect, reverence, and honor exhibited by the Ho-Chunk for the visiting Lummi tribal members were moving to witness.

The Ho-Chunk hold their veterans and military personnel in high regard.  Veterans as well as those currently serving in active duty were honored and remembered as part of this ceremony.  Two Ho-Chunk veterans representing American Legion Posts 556 and 129 served as color guard, hand accompanied by the drum circle and song, bore eagle staffs to places of honor near the totem.  The ceremony was concluded when the staffs were escorted from the area.

Greendeer said:  “The purpose of the totem is to create public awareness and insight into traditional healing.  Traditional healing includes the mind, the body, and the spirit:  all three.”

After the ceremony, a delicious meal was prepared and served to attendees.  Venison with gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, and tribal favorites fry bread and corn soup made from dried corn were enjoyed.

While traveling to and from the Pow Wow grounds, in the same geographical location in each direction, a bald eagle circled over the highway and my vehicle.  Perhaps the bald eagle is a harbinger of healing in addition to the totem.

     NLM’s healing totem parked at the Andrew Blackhawk Pow Wow Grounds

       (Photo: courtesy Melinda Orebaugh)

  Melinda Orebaugh, MLS

  Director, Library & Health Information Services

  Gundersen Lutheran Health System, La Crosse, Wisconsin

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2 thoughts on “Guest blog – Black River Falls, WI blessing

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