Highway thoughts on the way to Meeteetse

COVID Chronicles
Dana Wilson, Sports Reporter
Thursday, September 3, 2020

For now the high school sports season as we knew it is a thing of the past.

The county had two basketball teams who were set to play for the whole shooting match, state titles and we all know how that went. The way it crumbles is sometimes unfair.

This fall students have the option of learning online or face to face. In the wake of that, sports will continue in some places, but with the absence of fans. What are we going to do? For some of us sports fanatics, its equivalent to losing a thumb or a toe, not that I’m missing any body parts, but I think you can get the picture.

I’m coping with this by spending as much time as I can outdoors. I am blessed to be from the Mighty Few District, and no, I didn’t just stay there with my grandparents or an uncle for a couple weeks during a summer, I’m actually from there. I even attended the Wyola School.

I spend as much time as I can rambling the upper Little Horn River in the quest for trout, a refreshing swim and just to be home.

Quite honestly, I haven't ever had the urge to ever want to fish or swim anywhere else. I have on occasion visited the Big Horn River in the same district, though I am always respectful and pick up my trash. I don’t leave any lawn chairs, beer or Shasta pop cans strewn about, like some people's kids. Folks like that must have been absent when the lesson about respecting the Earth was taught.

Wherever you go, you should be respectful and not leave your rubbish for another person to pick up. Please teach your kids and grandkids, we are blessed with a beautiful place to call home. I recently took a trip to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The drive down was full of Apsáalooke history.

I drove by the little quaint town of Meeteetse, Wyoming. The name is actually a mispronunciation of a word in the Crow language that translates roughly to, “Where the good man passed away” or “Where the chief died.” That Crow Chief was Sits In The Middle of The Land, who was also known as Blackfoot.

Some older readers may remember the story of how Sits In The Middle of The Land reportedly appeared to a non-Native spiritual medium and told her he wanted to be repatriated to Crow Country. Which I think is interesting because at the time of his passing, he was roughly in the center of Crow Country as he knew it, plus I always thought that Crows didn’t mess with the remains of the dead.

Anyway, I was in in first or second grade and they had kids from all over the reservation come together to witness the remains being reinterred between the Bureau of Indian Affairs building and Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency.

I remember very little of the affair. When you're that young, you have seemingly more important things on your mind. What I do vividly remember was a Bad War Deed Clan child in attendance crying really hard. This kid was crying so hard that I almost started crying and probably should have gone to therapy over the horrid sight.

Come to find out, that the non-Native spiritual medium was a little on the coocoo side. Those bones may have been those of an ill-fated Basque shepard. But what do I know? I’m not an expert on historic bone analysis or Crow History.

Also, the spiritual medium promised the Crows who listened to her that once the remains came back the Crow Nation will prosper. Which brings me to the next hot topic that only happens to us Crows every four years, the executive election.

Prosperity is a subjective term, the definition isn’t the same for everyone. Some see being flat broke, but having a huge family as prosperity, while another’s definition is collecting a huge per capita check and not having to work.

What qualities are found in a good tribal leader? The basics, as I see it, are firstly, Crow men should have the right to “speak loud,” for the non-Crow readers, the right to speak outloud is an important part of a larger system, our clan system.

Crows are part of a matrilineal clan system. We assume membership of out mother’s clan and we are children of our father’s clan. Our clan fathers and mothers are members of the same clan as our father. Our clan mothers and father are to name, brag, pray for their clan children.

Another important part role of the clan mother and father is to speak or sing the praises of their clan children when they accomplish something great. In order to do this publiclly they must have the right to spek outloud. This right is usually purchased by a clan father with money and gifts, it can also be given to someone as a gift.

Not everyone has the right to speak outloud, it is seen as a cultural taboo to speak publically without that right, especially at large events like Crow Fair, hand ame tournaments, dances. Crow people expect cultural rules to be followed at just about any activity that requires an orator. This right is purchased from a clan father who has right to speak publically.

A Crow indian should never toot their own horn or brag about themselves, they depend on their clan fathers and mother to do it for them.

To counter and balance our father’s clan, we have a teasing clan, whose job is to scrutinize anything their teasing clansmen do and joke about it either directly or indirectly. I would hope that any potential Crow leader adheres, believes, follows and practices our clan system.

It is who we are, who we should be and who we should teach our kids and grandkids to be.

I’m just a bored sports reporter rambling about a long-faded mystery and memory that came back as I drove through Meeteetse.

But then I blinked my eyes and I wasn’t in Meeteetse anymore.