Manataka™ American Indian Council


 

 

 

 

DESERVING OF HONOR

 

Imagine my surprise when I opened the St. Louis Post Dispatch in early October and viewed an article about  a traditional Lakota burial ceremony.  Not a burial of someone who just died but of a member of the Buffalo Wild West Show who died in Connecticut in 1900.

 

The picture (to the right) and short byline is about his relatives giving honor to his buffalo robe wrapped remains lifted high on a piar by his modern Ogalala tribal members.

 

To say that seeing such an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch was a surprise is an understatement.  Of course, the short “aritcle” and picture was all that was printed, but my first question was, “why did that article appear at all?”  The second question was, “who in St. Louis cares about this obscure man?”  After all, most people in St. Louis seem to believe that American Indians are some long ago extinct group who have little or no influence on our “modern/enlightened” culture.

 

Bob Young, a Connecticut history buff, is credited for finding Albert’s remains  and contacting the family about bringing him back to the Pine Ridge for proper burial.  I’m sure that this Connecticut resident does not consider himself a hero, but I do.  It would be wonderful if Young’s actions here could be duplicated all over the continent.

 

There may not be buried remains that you can arrange to be brough home for proper honoring ceremony.  There are, however, people who need to be honored for their heritage and the contributions their ancestors gave to us all.  The American Indian nations who live on reservations or on their own land or live as private citizens should be honored for no other reason than that is what everyone deserves.  Yet, there is another reason because wherever you walk, drive or move over this continent; it is a good bet that native people have been there before you.  Many artifacts, physical remains or other evidence of their diverse cultures and lifestyles may be only inches or a few feet below.  We ask that you, like Mr Young, would consider making an effort to return them to their rightful people group should they be unearthed.

 

Also, below is a full article about Albert and his remains being returned to South Dakota.

 

Albert Afraid of Hawk was born in 1879, the third son of Emil Afraid of Hawk and his wife, who was known as White Mountain. Alfred was born on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe.

 

In about 1898, Albert became a member of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. Prior to departing with the show he was present at the American Indian Congress in Omaha, Nebraska, where all known photographs of Albert were taken.

 

Historically, Albert’s father was with Chief Sitting Bull on June 25, 1876, at the Battle of the Greasy Grass, also known as the Battle of the Little Big Horn or Custer’s Last Stand.

 

Albert’s oldest brother, Richard, was one of more than 300 Sioux traveling from Standing Rock Reservation south into Pine Ridge, under the leadership of Chief Spotted Elk. This group was forced to camp at Wounded Knee Creek by the U.S. Army Cavalry on the evening of December 28, 1890. On the following morning the infamous massacre took place. Richard was one of the survivors of this action, having found refuge in the creek banks.

 

In 1900, Albert was traveling along the east coast with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. On Thursday, June 28, 1900, the show was presented in Danbury at the fields then located on White Street.

 

On the evening of the 28th, after the show was completed, Albert was taken ill. He was attended by a local physician and was subsequently taken to the Danbury Hospital. It was felt that Albert was suffering from food poisoning, contracted from canned corn.

After suffering for many hours, Albert succumbed to his illness on Friday, June 29, 1900. He was buried in the Wooster Cemetery on July 2, 1900. A boyhood friend from Pine Ridge, identified as David Bull Bear, was in attendance. The burial and its expenses were arranged by the Buffalo Bill show.

 

Albert’s remains lay in an unmarked grave until records were discovered in 2008 which documented his demise and the location of his grave. In early 2009, members of Albert’s family were located in South Dakota and the lengthy process of repatriation was begun.

 

Removal of Albert’s mortal remains will take place during August 2012, and he will be reinterred with full Lakota honors on the Pine Ridge Reservation in October 2012.

 

Albert Afraid of Hawk - circa 1898,  &  Fanny Afraid of Hawk, Albert’s sister - circa 1913.

 

 


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