Manataka American Indian Council

 

 

 

 

 

GRANDMOTHER MAKA NUPA L. COTA SPEAKS

 

 

 

 

 

Powwow!



During my life time I have attended many Powwows to dance and meet old and new friends. The Powwows as they are called,  have been the American Indians way of social gatherings for thousands of years.


Much of the traditional ways have been bent and reshaped to work in the modern world but under it all for the people lies the real spiritual meaning of these gatherings.


Many things change and other nations cultures are brought into the Powwow.  Yet still the essence of the spiritual way is always in the core of the gathering.


Dancers dance for the people and drummers sing and play for the spirituality of the dancers and the people.
These things never change and the people are like one big family who enjoy getting to gather and sharing.

This year I had agreed to share a vendor tent with a good friend who also is the C'annupa carrier for the Metis people of Maine. I met him through my daughter Debbie and we have become close friends; in fact we adopted him into our family.


Like some old ruffed up and ragged teddy bear Trip has come into our lives and our hearts. With all his many health issues we support him and make sure he is taken care of.
 

So it was with some sense of adventure we decided to share his booth at the Powwows this year.


The weather was predicted to be wonderful for the weekend,  and we both were really excited to get the tent set up and our wares all placed on the tables.


The land it was being held on belongs to this small band of people who work hard to give the people a place to do ceremony and celebrations.


Many would be attending we were told and a good amount of vendors would be setting up along side of us.
After hooking the new used trailer that Trip had bought to my truck we headed out to the land.


The field that was to be used had been planted with corn the year before so the uneven ground gave us some  challenged for pulling the trailer across to our spot.


On Friday we pulled his travel trailer filled with so much stuff it was hard to sort it all out in the few hours before the Pow Wow started. Being a ridged Virgo I had a hard time with his laid back mellow ways.


We set up the tents and unloaded most of Trips treasures. It was hot and muggy so we did the best we could before heading back home. I had little to set up just some bead work and my table for private talks,  so I had a very easy part in all  of this.


Early in the morning on Saturday Trip arrived and we took my truck over to the land. We worked hard on the tent and during that time Trip had to smudge the arbor where the drums would be played and also bring in the flag as a Veteran for the grand opening. I was in the tent frantically setting up piles of things in some sort of order.


Soon the people started to arrive and we were busy talking to them and selling items.


Much of the things that he has for sale were used leather jackets and other gently used clothing and moccasins.


He also carries many other items to numerous to mention.


Some what of a traveling Gypsies he gathers things all year for the flea markets and the Pow Wow's. The true native person is really into the bargain of the trade so he fits the roll perfectly. I think that I may make a banner that says "Trip's Trading Post" for our next adventure.


After the setting up I went back to the trailer to clear off the beds and get the place in order for the night. We would not have power so it was important that it would be done before sun down. I had brought water food and ice so we were all set for Saturday and Sunday.


It became so hot that the least exertion brought sweat pouring down you face. At one point my eyes burned from the salt of the sweat.


Drinking enough water was key to keeping fit today and the dancers were out there in the sun enduring the dance Inipi "sweat lodge"  as we started to call it.


I sit down under the opening to our tent and took a few minutes to get a breath of air and drink some water.
It was during that time a very strange thing happened.


I saw a small thin man come into the tent he was thin and his skin the color of coffee.  He wore a pair of old blue jeans and a much worn shirt. He also had an old round hat on his head. I noticed the thin arms and the tattoos that were hard to see against his dark skin.


He first went over to where Trip was talking to some people and  I sit back and watched him. He then came over to where I was and took my hand in his two hands as a greeting. I felt the thin skin and the bones that were so close to the surface. Long slender fingers with a powerful grip held my hand tight. I could do no more than return his greeting and listen.


He referred to me as Granddaughter and I to him as Grand Father returning the honoring with " Grandfather have you eaten?"  His reply was yes Granddaughter  I have eaten.


After that he walked back to where Trip was standing  and still talking then in a few minutes he returned to me and said, "do not  worry it would all be alright". I replied to him that I was honored to have met him.
His face half hidden under the old black hat never let me see his eyes or the full face. There was a presence about him that did not hold physical bearing but spiritual.  There was also the feeling that you had just touched spirit and met someone very important.


I thought this whole thing strange as I did not even know who he was, or his name.


He was dressed as no other person there and reminded me of the old ones back on Pine Ridge when I was a small child. The worn clothes and the quiet gentle ways always let you know that you were in the presence of the old ones. The wisdom keepers and the holders of stories for the people. We as children were quick to find these old ones and listen to the stories that they shared.


The quiet way and the gentle respect he had for others showed in his walk and his greeting.


I felt honored he had come into the tent and took a few minutes to hold my hand in his.  


He waked out of the tent and I did not see him again.


I set there with a my mind racing here and there with this old mans words. How did he know I have been deeply troubled in my life? I have been over whelmed with decisions and things I must do to survive yet more here in this house. money issues pensions and all that are left when your husband dies are hard on the remaining person.


He old man's  few words seem to put a healing balm over my open wounds. The strange words he spoke were  like the touch of a feather and made me feel at peace.


I later on ask Trip who the old man was and he looked at me and  said he had seen no such man in the tent.
I questioned the wife of the Chief of the Metis people and she had no idea who I was referring too.


There was no way a person could not have seen him as he was like no other person on the grounds.


Today I understand more and will hold this and the words spoken to me in my heart. These words  have given me courage and strength to go on. I know he was there in the tent be it in spirit or in the flesh so that is all I need to know.


My mind was taken off the strange meeting of this elder by the invite to tell some stories to the children. I was very honored by this request and accepted the tobacco offered without thinking  twice. Bob Silver Eagle and his wife ask me out of the blue. they are good people and I am sure there is a connection here for the future.

 

I have no idea why I was ask as they really do not know me; but I am deeply honored by this.


I do enjoy telling the old stories to the children,  and singing the old songs.


Many times when we ask for answers and seek guidance we are given a messenger to bring words of healing to us. It is up to us to be aware and to understand the many wonderful ways that Creator can reach out and offer us strength and hope. Never question the messenger and always be open to the words your given. I know that changes are coming but now I feel at peace and know it will all be done in a good way. My heart is at peace and my mind is at rest knowing that all will be well.


Many  Blessings Nupah Makah
Copyright (C) 2009 by Nupah Makah L Cota  All publication rights reserved
 

 

 

 

 

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