“We have enough water for the elders, but we might not have enough water for the rest of the audience. We always have enough for our elders. At here, we want to make sure that our elders are always at the first place.”
I heard this during the veteran’s pow-wow, an event that honors all veterans–tribal and non tribal–that fought for the United States of America in the past. Veterans entered in the front of the front of the dancers, as they fought in the front lane of the battlefield, and they will be giving a small introduction about themselves: who are they, where and when they fought for the country. Some took this chance to honor their parents or even grandparents who were also veterans. The Veterans pow wow also provided great opportunities to help veterans and their family members, such as offering health care or helping reconnect them to civilian life (Dean Rhodes, veterans’ weekend arrives with summit pow wow), which may not be mentioned during the main activities though.
We respect the elders and we help and care about them, put them at the first place, not simply because they are old or we think they need us to help them, but for what they have done and suffered to make their lives, their society (which becomes our society), and their offsprings’ lives (which could be ours) better. This kind of respect is not unique to Grand Ronde; we can see it in every corner of our world! Think about the constructors who made us the foundations and houses for us to stay safe; think about the hunters and the food gatherers who bring us food when we were waiting for them; think about the warriors, the veterans (like what we did at pow wow!) think about all of them and what they have done to contribute the world the society we live in now. They did what they could when they were young and strong(some of them still stood in their place even when they were not young anymore), and when their age added up, when they were not able to wave the tool, shouldn’t we be grateful for what they have done and make sure they had what they deserve?
This kind of respect and consideration for veterans and the elders is not only to make sure that they can enjoy what they deserve after what they have done for our generation, it is also for our generation to remember and to honor their actions. Through the actions of the elder, our generation has the responsibility to see what our ancestors and elders have done for us, learn their wisdom by listening to their words, and most importantly feel them with our heart. The elders, are just like a beautiful song, like the song for the ancestors that was sung in the plank house.
“Think about our ancestor, who had suffered so much during the time that they were forced to travel to this place, think about their sacrifices, their contribution, now we are sitting in the plank house, let us remember our ancestors, as we should remember our tradition” Bobby Mercier spoke these words.
May the elders (and ancestors!) guide us with their wisdom, and long live the elders!
Rhodes, Dean, veterans’ weekend arrives with summit pow wow, the confederated tribes of grand ronde, 6/29/2017, http://www.grandronde.org/news/smoke-signals/2017/06/29/veterans-weekend-arrives-with-summit-powwow/#sthash.YEx0sj7a.dpbs