Sees Himself

Tests of bravery come in many forms. There is a lot of pressure for a young man wishing to be seen as a man, or at least seen as older than his brothers who must  watch the pony herd instead of going into battle. His older brothers look at him and watch to see if he is ready. Is he strong enough to go along on a raid yet or does he need more time. He has practiced with his bow until he can hit anything in sight, he has made his own shield and done a vision quest. He has fasted. In his mind he is ready.

There has been constant talk of the blue coats entering the area of the Little bighorn river. The older braves have been continually riding in to talk with the elders after spying on the enemy, there is a steady rise of anticipation of what will surely be a big battle with the one they call yellow hair and the rest of the pony soldiers which has made the camp a beehive of activity. There will be much blood on the greasy grass. Tensions are high as squaws are getting their men’s battle gear out of the beaded deer hide cases they are stored in. The younger girls gathering the youngest together to keep them safe. Men are getting their ponies ready, applying paint on the flanks and withers, braiding feathers into their manes, slapping their handprints onto their necks, talking to them of the brave deeds they will perform. The younger boys excitedly riding around the pony herd keeping them in a tight bunch for when they are needed. Anticipation could not be higher.

For several nights this young warrior has had the same dream. He sees himself on his pony waiting near the edge of village to go out with his brothers. His job is to be one of the decoys that lures the first soldiers away from the village. His part is dangerous, the rifle of the soldiers can reach out a long way. His older brother has told him to lay low on the back of his pony, but to yell loudly and appeared scared so that the soldiers looking for an easy kill will follow them. It’s an important job and he is nearly bursting with pride to have been chosen.

He does not want to fail in his task and that is his biggest fear. To some how let down his brothers which is why he has not slept for more than a few hours each night. His dream comes whenever he closes his eyes but as dreams often do, the answer of his bravery is just out of his reach. So it is with some trepidation when the call comes to leap into action. He is certain he will brave but he is slightly worried that for some terrible reason he won’t be. In a few moments he and everyone else will know for sure. He sees himself and now is the moment of truth.

 

Crow Elder – Time Keeper

This post has been moved to OpenChutes.com. All future postings of Powwows, Indian Relay Races, Rodeos and Rendezvous will be posted there from now on exclusively. So if you’re looking for new images and posts for all those events attended this year, plus all the old posts posted on BigShotsNow.com check out OpenChutes.com. See you there!

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When photographing the Crow Fair last year I noticed how many of the elders of the tribe so easily fit into the duality of the moment. On one hand they were a large part of the present yet fit so naturally into the past. It was as if they were caught between time. You could easily imagine them shifting between now and then effortlessly. Their clothes draped on them so naturally, they held the trappings that they carried as if they were never out of their hands, and their faces showed the wealth of years of experience and memories. It would not be difficult to imagine them revisiting their heritage by slipping back and forth between time. Perhaps they do in their memories.

Elders in the tribes are held with the utmost respect and are included in the forefront of all the ceremonies and activities. In practically every major event there is a color guard that opens the activities and it is a mixture of young and old with the older participants in the front of the procession. They are a proud people and it shows in everything they do. This Crow gentleman was one of the color guard participants and his patience and serene demeanor was an example for all.

It was my pleasure and honor to be able to photograph the members of the Crow tribe and I will be periodically featuring them through out the year.

Crow Elders Watching

This post has been moved to OpenChutes.com. All future postings of Powwows, Indian Relay Races, Rodeos and Rendezvous will be posted there from now on exclusively. So if you’re looking for new images and posts for all those events attended this year, plus all the old posts posted on BigShotsNow.com check out OpenChutes.com. See you there!

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During the dance competition at the Crow Fair many types of dances were performed. There were categories for all ages. Men and women’s dances, young people, elders. There were dances performed by visiting tribes, everywhere you looked there were people dancing.

The categories included different types of dances such as Northern Traditional, Southern traditional, Chicken dance, Grass dance, and Fancy dances for the men. Northern and Southern Traditional, Jingle and Fancy Shawl dances for the women, There was something for everyone.

When the dances were being performed it was serious business, it wasn’t just spectacle although there was plenty of that, this was their history and heritage being performed, a way in which their culture was being passed on from the elders to the younger people down through the ages. Who they were as a people was imbedded in the dance and its traditions and this was their heart and soul. This is what made them who they are.

The youngest learning by watching and performing, learned the steps, and as they did the meaning held within the dance itself was absorbed, and as they grew the culture of the Crow people became ingrained within them. They were absorbing and gathering everything they needed to know to become the future of the tribe.

Through it all the elders would watch. It was a competition but it was more than that. It was proof that the Crow traditions and heritage would move forward  and as long as dances were held and people sang and came together the tribe would always be who they were. The Crow Nation, proud and fiercely independent.

Crow Fair 2015 Parade

This post has been moved to OpenChutes.com. All future postings of Powwows, Indian Relay Races, Rodeos and Rendezvous will be posted there from now on exclusively. So if you’re looking for new images and posts for all those events attended this year, plus all the old posts posted on BigShotsNow.com check out OpenChutes.com. See you there!

The main parade at the Crow Fair is one event everybody looks forward to. It ‘s a chance to see the Fair participants in full regalia riding their horses or on a float presenting their best efforts for the fair judges and the parade viewers as well. It’s a fun event for everybody. The participants get to wave to fiends and family in the crowd. The viewers get to see an amazing sight and everybody’s happy. This has got to be a favorite time for everyone.

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As in every event they hold the colors are presented.

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Usually the parade has categories but occasionally things get changed u a little and you get a different look. Today there were a lot of individuals parading in and out of category groups.

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There’s always Royalty in a parade and there is a lot of royalty at the Crow Fair.

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An experienced rider in the men’s War Bonnet category.

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Some times the parade is so good you just have to smile

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Lodge poles, a good horse, a hat to keep the sun off your face and it’s a great parade

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An elder responding to friend in the crowd. Everyone is good-natured and has fun calling back and forth.

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A segment of the Reservation Hat category passes in review.

 

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The Crow are very partial to their horses and any cane to show off good stock is taken advantage of.

 

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Young women get a chance to show off their finery.

 

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A young warrior rides a painted horse. The symbols and colors are all important.

 

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A young woman wearing an Elk Tooth dress shades her eyes with her fan. It was 107° the day this parade was held.

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And the sun was bright and hot but that didn’t keep the parade from going on.

 

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All ages participate

 

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Eve down to the youngest. If they can hang on they can be in the parade

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That counts for the horses too.

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These young braves are on their way to being fierce warriors, they just need a little more time.

 

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Letting out a huge cry and catching up is all part of the parade

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The real stars of the parade are the elders, both men and women. Within them lies the knowledge and experience that needs to be passed down to the younger members of the tribe. They are the reservoirs of heritage and pride and it shows on each and every face.

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As the parade winds down ad passes by there is a final wave and it’s over for the day. A parade like this is a monumental task to put on. In the next post we’ll visit the staging area where all the magic happens. Stay tuned.

Life and Other Things of Interest

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There is a place in the Southwest where the ancient ones used to live. It was a large city by the standards of those times and it was central to all the people in the area for a great distance around it, and they made pilgrimages to it for trade, culture and knowledge. It was the center of their society and as such it provided many things that were more than mere trade goods and socialization. It was called Chaco, then and now, and it was a powerful place.

Those people were similar to us in that they had many questions about life and other interesting things. They must have had wise people that provided answers to their questions. We know they worshipped because they built great kivas in the earth and gathered there for ceremonies that we people today know nothing about. They must have attempted to teach and pass what wisdom they had on to the newer generations so that they had some guide lines on how to navigate this life. And like the churches of today they used their architecture to provide a visual reference to how life worked.

In the image above you have three rooms that are located deep inside one of the largest buildings in the city. When you enter them there is an immediate feeling that this is an important place. You can imagine one of the elders leading a group of young people into the first room, explaining its purpose, saying, this is your childhood place. It is the largest, most open room, filled with all the joy and wonder that being young brings. You will stay in this room briefly. That is a sad lesson that you will not learn for many years. Enjoy your time here for it is very fleeting.

The next room is the room in which you will spend your middle years. You will marry, raise a family, provide for them and work very hard. You will not pass back into the first room again. These years will be filled with hardship, toil, and also a certain amount of happiness. You will watch your children grow and leave, there will be sadness, yet peace as you know you have tried to prepare them as best you could for their future. Friends will come and go. You will see that you are aging. There are benches on either side of the doorway leading into the last room. Those benches are there so that you can sit and think about entering the next room. You will need those benches and you will think hard.

The last room is the smallest. It is small because you will not need much there. There will not be much to do. It is where you stay until your time passes. For some of you, if you make it to that last room, it will be a comfortable time. It is warm there and you have your memories to keep you busy. For others it may be place of infinite sadness and you will wish every moment that you could go back to the first room. But this is not possible. How you spend your time in the last room will depend on how you spent your time in the first two rooms. We can only advise you to use your time well.

But you ask, What is that doorway in the last room? Why is it so dark? Where does it lead? We can only tell you that we do not know. None of us here have ever entered it and returned. Some enter that doorway willingly and happily, others do not. No one who has entered it has ever sent word back. Perhaps it will be clearer when you spend your time there.  We can only hope it is a good place and we say ‘Live your life as well as you can and it may make that passage easy for you’. Now that is enough for today. Leave and enjoy yourselves. We will speak again later.