Over the years I had often heard that our relatives who went to live in the cities because of relocation, education or to join other family members, kept alive the traditions and ceremonies of our people because they are so important to their identity and to their connection to their homelands. While I know that there are many Native children who have lived in urban areas for their entire lives and that we need to do whatever we can to give them access to cultural knowledge, I see that many families go out of their way to keep the connection of identity and spirit in place.
We went to the Tall Bull Memorial pow-wow and we could have been in one of the communities on the Rosebud for a traditional pow-wow. The same ceremonial and social activities occurred – specials, recognitions, and social dances. Although I don’t know all of the people there yet, it was clear that they were accustomed to the rhythm and flow of how the celebration went, the singers had strong voices and the dancers were beautiful. All the people in the arena were welcome. There were not hundreds of people there just like the difference between a celebration at Ring Thunder or Swift Bear and Rosebud Fair. It is in a beautiful location in Daniels Park and we appreciated seeing friends and relatives there. We know that celebrations and ceremonies at this location are in a special place in the Rockies.
Living in an urban setting reminded me of how national or global the US economy is – we have to search out stores that are locally or regionally owned because many stores are part of extremely large chains and have lost their connection to small businesses that are so important to our local economies. I am not against large businesses because they provide affordable goods for all people including myself. I just wish for more small business and family suppliers of these businesses to have access. I am also concerned about the loss of subsistence and sustainable lifestyles, not just for Native communities but also for non-Native peoples as well. It is interesting to me for example that I called Fred Meyer, which I always assumed was a regional store, for my prescriptions and found out that King Sooper and at least a dozen store brands across the country, are all part of the same corporation. Even new stores that we found like Sprouts (which is an affordable organic/healthy food store) is part of a bigger chain including other similar stores.
When you are on the Rez, you can run into friends, go over to their houses, go to sweat or some event together, when you live in the city, you have to make dates. Everyone leads busy lives, working and ensuring family and friendships among those they already have relationships with. It takes time to find your place.