|The heat of the August day in Oklahoma
seemed to drum its finger on the hood of their car as they huddled inside
with the air conditioner holding the leering monster momentarily away from
them. No matter, as they would soon step out of their car the thing alive
would slap at them, almost as if to remind them of its presence.
John Gives Waters had invited them to a
family gathering which was something they could not avoid attending
because it wasn't what that family practiced as a common thing, for giving
a special invitation to persons out of their family for their annual
celebration and social event. they were rather like honored guests and it
would have been insulting to the family not to attend.
The gently moving but till strong breezes
at this lush green campground greeted them when the stepped from the car
and the beast of heat had been foiled because here instead of the burning
blast was the touch of warm welcoming winds. Long black ribbons of hair
flowed around the faces of the young woman and their regalia's were
dancing and flipping with festive abandon, pulled at and twisted by the
playful wind who now seemed as sweet and fun loving as a young boy.
There was a large rawhide drum resting in
the center of the circle for the ceremonial. The long beater sticks rested
across it also. They were like a thing of artwork and each drummer
decorated his own with lovely patterns of rich colored beads. The end of
the stick was wrapped and padded with a soft piece of white tanned
buckskin. The padding of the stick created a sound distinctive for the
plains peoples songs.
The booming voice of the master of
ceremonies was calling the people to the circle via the electronic
microphone he held in his hand. his black hat holding a narrow bright
beaded band rested lightly on the back of his head and the strength of his
voice along with his strong Native heritage in his appearance gave him
command of the gathering. as children to the piper the drummers began to
take their seats in a circle around the drum. They began their call to the
people with a soft almost whispering drum beat, slow and deliberate. In an
explanation the master of ceremonies pointed out that this was the opening
song, a prayer song, respectful and in memory of all the folks who had
gone before them. As the drummers began their song in the Native language,
although, the words were foreign the feeling, the essence of the song as
not. It was an expression to move one to the feelings of the people who
were remembering their people of another time.
The master of ceremonies called the head
dancer, John Gives Waters to take the lead in opening the dance. All eyes
were caught to the man who stepped into the circle. Only a few moments ago
he had been a business man, owner of his own business out of Dallas,
Texas. Now, he had stepped back into another era. He wore leather leggins
of a bright color, almost yellow orange. His bustle was of a black feather
circle. His shirt was of the same fabric and color as his trousers. His
long hair was caught and held with a scissor tale bird feather. He held
the traditional decorated fan in his hand as his slow movement lead him to
the center of the circle to dance slowly around the drummers.
John Gives Waters, by every appearance was
Native. It was a joy to hear him speak because his voice and his
language, though English, was that of the old people. He would begin his
words, maybe saying, "you know," and then pause until he had
your attention by your gesture or quick glance toward him, "you
know," he would continue, "things are not like they used to be
with our folks." There would be another long pause, until he
was sure he had your attention. "Our folks," he would begin the
next sentence with the words of the last sentence, just as the old folks
did in their teaching, with oral traditions. "Our folks have lost so
many of their old way." He would start by forming a circle of thought
to drive a rhetoric professor crazy. " Get to the point, get to the
point," the professor would say.
Yet, what a strange thing about the Native
and we will quietly remember too the old ones who went before.
John's ancestor was William Clark, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, 1809.
William Clark would have enjoyed immensely his descendant,
apparently Native in every way, capable of performing the duties of
a business man in Dallas, Texas and holding the genes of a Scot.