Books 1983 Omaha Harvest Celebration Pow-Wow Fieldnotes by Carl Fleischhauer
Toward the end of a long evening, the contests were completed and the winners announced. Then a man was called up for a closing prayer. I didn't know what to make of this. The prayer was in Omaha, although it ended with “Amen.” Dorothy said that the man represented the Native American Church. The man was at least in his fifties or sixties and dressed in plaid shirt and jeans, the condition of which might be said to be “rundown.” In appearance, he presented a contrast to the well-dressed “Chamber of Commerce” look of most of the pow-wow and tribal officials, but I took his prayer to be important and holy.
As we were packing, I talked a bit to Wolfe. I explained to him, as I had to several others, that we would send tapes and photos to Dennis. Wolfe asked me to send him some photos and tapes (which included him and his friends, as he put it). I said I would.
Monday, August 15
This morning I woke up covered with what I took to be bug bites, and I felt bad. Maria had come to the motel for this last night so she could shower; when I got up, she was up, and we sorted and packed equipment. Maria had sent over her Nagra for the pow-wow, and we separated it out for her to take back. Then we wished her well, and she left for Montana.
Dorothy and I went into Lyons (near the motel) and bought some medicine: an ointment for me, and a cold medicine for the cough and sniffles that she had developed. Then we drove on to Macy to look for Dennis. The previous night the tribal chairman had announced a holiday for today, and indeed most facilities seemed to be closed.
We drove around town and saw a group at the little arena at the pow-wow grounds. As we drove by we could see that it was a funeral. A coffin stood in the center of the ring of benches, and there were several plastic bags nearby, the sort of bags we had seen at all the giveaways (usually full of blankets). We did not stop.
When we got back to the center of town, we ran into Dennis in the company of a white employee of the tribe, Dennis Jones. It was hot and we were uncomfortable (I was feeling pretty weak), so we just sat under a tree in the breeze and talked.
It turned out that Jones was involved in leasing land for the tribe. The tribe owned land, but most leasing was controlled by the BIA, except for one or two parcels. Jones said that, although neighboring private land was leased for $75 per acre, the BIA leased tribal land for $25 per acre. The tribe, he and Dennis said, was trying to gain control of the process. Jones pointed out that the lease requires lessees to follow “old” conservation practices: land had to lie fallow or be in pasture two years out of five (or was it three?).