A Time for Reflection

Dawn at Cypress Hills.

I’d like to say good afternoon–umba waste’. My name is Kurt Ryder, Sunkmanitu Lowampi, that’s my Indian name. I’m from Carry the Kettle First Nation.

I’d like to talk about a recent experience I had visiting Cypress Hills. My wife and I went there to pray. It’s a very spiritual place. You can feel the spirits. We first smudged and then took out the pipe to start praying. I began singing and when I did this, a short distance away, an elk came out of the brush and came trotting up the hill. He stopped about 25 yards from us. I paused my song and he let out a chirp, so I continued singing. And when I
finally finished the song, he let out a bugle and returned to the brush. The hair on the back of my neck was standing up. We loaded the pipe with tobacco and prayed up on that hill. Talking with the spirits, it was so very peaceful. We saw many animals during our visit. When your mind is on prayer the animals sense it. I will never forget that experience, that time in prayer talking to Creator.

Prayer is the most important thing that we have. The following week I was asked to do a pipe ceremony at the Massacre site at Fort Walsh. Fifty elders attended and we had a big feast and we fed the spirits. We came together as a nation and prayed for the ones that have past on. We pray for people all over the world, for the ones having a hard time and needing help. When you load that pipe and pray, it doesn’t matter where you are, your prayers
are going around the world. We have been praying for these kids found in Kamloops and Cowessess and other places. First Nations people have been praying for these kids and holding ceremonies to bring the little ones back to the spirit world and bring them home. Their relatives are finding out where they are, so this is a good thing. We had a lot of trauma through these years.

These traumas were foretold when the White Buffalo Calf Woman brought that pipe to the people–they were prophesied. The people were told that they were going to go through a hard time, but with that pipe, you’re going to live on. We are here today because our ancestors went through hard times and sacrificed so that we could have something right now. These sacrifices are recorded in songs, prayer songs that go back generations. That pipe was here 19 generations before the first Europeans came. These ceremonies come with that pipe and we still do them, the seven sacred rights.

If our people all over the world came together in prayer, we wouldn’t have all this stuff that’s happening. And if people learned those songs, our children would have a better life in the future. Those are just the little teachings that come with that pipe. I’d just like to say that for now–Pilamayalo.

Mitakuye Oyasin. All my relations.