Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Eagle Butte
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Hope for a better world washes over Labor Day fair organizers & patrons

The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation (CRST) Labor Day Fair & Rodeo once again provided a wide variety of activities throughout the weekend for people of all ages and diverse interests.

Precious Cook stands with three winning dancers at Monday’s powwow and P. Cook’s honoring. Photo submitted by Jay Cook

The powwow, various sports and youth activities, art, rodeo events and the parade, left most people who attended just a little tired by the close of day Monday.

The fair theme was Mni Wiconi, Water is Life, honoring the people who gathered on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota in an effort to protect sacred land and water sources for people from North Dakota to the Southernmost states along the Missouri River.

Humans need water to live, and they need love, hope, and community to bring balance to the indifference, disappointment and isolation life gives us.

Ceremonies and honorings took place throughout the weekend, trying to tip the scales into balance after yet another year in which the CRST community and individuals faced great losses, struggles and grief.

People were honored at the fair by their community, relatives, friends, and fellow participants in different events.

The cynic might say that a win or an honoring is just one moment in time — a moment that comes and goes and fades.

However, those moments of victory or recognition tend to stay with a person long after everyone else has forgotten them.

Those moments act like a precious and shiny stone that we take out every once in a while to hold in our palms, to watch as the light glistens and twinkles off its surface on a quiet dusky evening.

Each person who experienced a moment such as this over Fair weekend can pull their memorable moments out when times are not so precious, and remember that the world is not all bad, and this community, for all of its faults, is a good one.

One memory comes from CRST member Jay Cook about his granddaughter’s naming ceremony.

Cooked shared with that on Sunday of fair weekend, his granddaughter, Precious Cook, age 11, went through a small Lakota naming ceremony held at their home after the raising of the flags Sunday morning.

According to J. Cook, Precious wanted to have her father’s Lakota name, Wanbli Gleska in his memory, and so she received the name Wanbli Gleska Wi, Spotted Eagle Woman.

Her father, Jesse Cook passed away in October, 2016, J. Cook said.

Precious is no stranger to loss. She lost her mother, Martha Fast Eagle, when she was 8 years old, and has been raised by her grandfather since that time, J. Cook said.

According to J. Cook, a dance and an honoring at the powwow after Monday’s grand entry gave the oyate an opportunity to pray for Precious’ peace of mind and for fulfilling her Dad’s wish that his only child have his Lakota name.

CRST is home to many stories such as the story Precious lives with each day. Stories that can make hearts heavy and life difficult.

Fair time is a chance for people to face those stories head-on through ceremony, candle-lit vigils, or personal victories.   

In competition, some winners exploded with joy for their wins, and others with tears. In each event, people shook hands, offered high fives or gave free hugs.

Whatever the situation, they all shared in a moment of accomplishment and community.

When a community can come together with people from all over the state and country to celebrate something they love, people can grasp onto the hope for something better, which makes struggles more bearable.

We at the WRE hope that on these pages, you are reminded of the many moments of joy from fair weekend, and that you can take them out and remember them to sooth you in darker times.