|For the need to live there wasn't allowed
time for emotional weakness. This is the basis for the sacrifice
involved with the tribe. The essential supports, of course, were the
people and then the animals. They were needed for the "tribe"
to function. Everything else of material things, no matter how
attractive, was not to be considered to be as necessary.
When gggrandfather Samuel Little Cook
passed away his wife Esther had all his orchards cut down. This was
their way. If seeing her husband's cherished beautiful trees, bearing
fruit, while he could no longer live would bring grief to her, Esther
would not allow this to happen. Grief could not become a part of their
life, hampering them from serving the living. People, animals, life, not
things are of the most value. This one racial difference has probably
brought more misunderstanding between the races than any other thing as
far as either culture not wishing to give up what they practice. The
white culture says, "these material things." The American
Indian says, "material," and this were once always part of
their sacrifice at a time of death or other social events, this fabric
or material. I always saw it as an important symbolic statement saying
something akin to, "the fabric of our life."
This is something that works for the
Native American and I have seen it to be so. During a family member's
divorce a gift came to us. It was from one of the feasts for a lost
family member as a way of a sacrifice of things. In a basket was a
beautiful pale blue shawl just the color of the gifted one's eyes.
Nothing was said when the young woman, who had lost her husband went to
it, picked it up and hugged it to her. We knew someone had seen her
grief during their time of loss, and they sacrificed some object of
beauty of their own. Certainly it didn't end the young woman's grief,
but it was a consolation to know someone else understood and cared.
Cutting of the hair at a time of loss
through death, historians call self mutilation, and as usual they just
don't really understand. To explain; this was also a sacrifice. The
pride in one's appearance often began with the hair. Neat and clean,
shining in soft arrangements, it was. This sacrifice of something so
essential to their daily regimen and feelings of well being was, indeed,
a Sacrifice. This sacrifice also served to mark that person as someone
who has lost a loved one in death. At this time they were excused from
the gatherings and other social arrangements for one year. To even speak
to that person who was grieving in a light-hearted way was not done.
They were to be given respect and not bothered in any way while they had
to cope with their grief. It was and still is, in many respects, a kind,
loving culture who has a thread of the old ways always running through
According to one's gene pool this
sacrifice is governed. If those are of the ancient leader's family,
often this part of the culture is closely observed and at great expense
to their own family which can lead up to impoverishment in these days
and times since, the replacement of giving away articles of personal
attachment has changed to that of buying these gifts with money earned
on jobs. If the practice could remain as it was intended rather than
showing off of one's possessions this can be still a useful method for
dealing with life's hardships as far as emotional well being is
necessary. Those of my family past who were not financially secure gave
of their knowledge and expertise and really this was a more useful gift.
This is usually a man's role.
There are those women who give their all
and are said to have "the heart of a warrior," and this is a
whole other custom. Their role will deviate from the norm, and
sometimes, it gives the incoming young leaders a headache because, they
do not know where this person fits in the social structure. The men of
old knew, and accepted the woman's intellect with gratitude, for
There are some very well educated of my
family who have made a statement as to my saving of these things I know.
"Well, we could all just go get a tee-pee and crawl in there."
They say. To these I respond. This isn't my purpose in any way. I myself
do not wish to give up the comforts I have. However, I am not so
arrogant as to feel that the way of life we now have is perfect. Please
show me one person who does not have to deal with death, and this isn't
speaking of many more emotional situations. Because I write of these
things doesn't mean I am preaching of a return to old ways. It is simply
my wish for us all to keep an open mind and to pick up and use things
that are of value. Isn't this what Christ taught? Love one another with
kindness, mildness, self-control.
If someone wants your inner garment, give
him your cloak as well, (hope I haven't misquoted that) in other words,
a consciousness of other's needs.