Sunday, June 17, 2012

En route to Montana

We drove through the night from Bdote Minnesota (the site of the Peace Pole at World Peace and Prayer Day) to Bear Lodge (Devils Tower National Monument) near Hulett Wyoming.  Arriving just in time Saturday morning at 8 AM, we joined the elders for a day full of prayer.  The sky was a beautiful clear blue with wasps of clouds, seventy degrees, plenty of sunshine and subtle breezes.  We met in a nonpublic area for the pipe ceremony in preparation for the public presentation at the southern base of the Tower where a new cedar peace pole was erected with "May Peace Prevail on Earth" written in English and Lakota. 

What I found interesting was the four worlds that met in the same place-- the tourists, the park staff, the locals and the WPPD entourage--each with very different perspectives of the same place. Late in the afternoon,  Chief Arvol Looking Horse sat on a park bench to addressing a group of indigenous youth and WPPD followers, but soon attracted quite a large crowd to listen to his wisdom.  He wasn't dressed in full regalia like earlier during ceremony, but there was obviously something magnetic about the moment as people stopped everything to sit and listen.

The volunteer fire department of Hulett had it's annual fundraiser last evening and my family decided to go and visit.  The barbeque was fantastic, but the company was even better.  The auctioneer was enthusiastic and the unexpected adventure with the townspeople created a great memory.  Many of the locals opened up and it was interesting to hear the diversity of opinions in a town of 385 people and a the Red Devil high school graduating class of 18.  Several people invited us to move there and if I would base my impression on the wonderful staff at the hotel, the friendly courtesy at the corner market and the people at dinner last night, I think it would be a wonderful place to live.  I would enjoy the opportunity to hear more and we hope to return again later this summer to keep this conversation going.  It sounds like they should have their perspectives shared if there is any hope of having a healthy dialogue and process regarding potential park name changes.  See earlier post: Close Encounters with Places Deemed Sacred for background.

We got on the road early Sunday for Big Horn Medicine Wheel, an 80 foot diameter stone pattern on top of the Bighorn Range in Wyoming at  9,642 feet high.  At the center of the circle is a ring pile of stones with 28 spokes leading to another circle and six cairns that reflect the star patterns.

Because of the snow, the path to the wheel was nearly impossible to traverse and many turned back.  For those of us who believe ourselves to be nimble enough to avoid falling down the snow embankment, the view from the zenith was spectacular.  After the treacherous hike across the ridge, the wind became increasingly powerful and as the clouds began to roll in quickly, making it difficult for the group to light the pipe.   After ceremony, we cautiously hustled back to our caravan to begin a long night drive across the rest of Wyoming.  There are plenty of stories I'd love to share but instead I feel it's more appropriate to ponder them in my heart and try to create a permanent memory photo in my mind.