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According to our informants, the town of Greenwood is abandoned. However, nobody told that to the Yankton Sioux -- who were in the last day of a four-day Sundance fesitval.
--Journals of Josef Verbanac, June 22, 2001
we'd done 60miles by 1pm. we were planning to lunch on the river in the abandoned town of Greenwood, and wait out a few hot afternoon hours.
we heard the drums as we pulled in. i asked a guy if it was okay to watch. he said sure, just stay outside the cirle. as he turned i saw two freshly healed quarter-size circular wounds on his back, one on each shoulder blade. a woman walked by and said "Welcome to the Rez." families had surrounded the circle this last day. the dancers had fasted and danced and pierced themselves for four days. a guy with blood dripping down a pair of holes in his chest said: "Let's roll. We're outta here."
their were more songs and ceremony. the woman who welcomed us invited Jo and I to their feast: fry bread, buffalo stew, and loadsa pot-luck. i wasn't allowed to tape the Sundance. nor would anyone talk on tape about it. the chief said he'd talk about other things after the festival. but they kept calling up relatives to be honored, and singing, and giving things away, and having Indian namings, and honoring the chief's recently departed uncle. by 6:30p they we're still calling up relatives as we pedaled out. I never got any tape. that's okay, tho. not everything needs to be recorded. I remember.
I remember the guy with 4 pairs of wounds on his chest, 3 healed from past Sundances, one still open. I remember during the song for the dead uncle, the dancers looked up and pointed. in the sky, between the river and the circle, a beautiful cloud had formed, shaped like the chest of an eagle about to take flight. the chief said his uncle is saying he's in happy hunting grounds. i remember standing in the food line next to 3 old grandmothers sitting and eating. beside them 2 girls, about ten, we're asking their mother:
Girl: Can we go swimming?
Mom: No, not here.
Granma: That's the river.
Mom: A lot of people have drown-dead in the river.
Girl: The water is strong.
Mom (smiling): You just go near it and it'll suck you in.
Girl (laughing): You sit on the bank and it'll come get ya.
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