Remembering a Lakota Deacon

Sunday, October 3, 2010

After mass I joined the Rooney Home for brunch. These junior high boys are all into football this time of year, both playing on the fields, and following their favorite teams. Word got around that I had a batch of football cards donated, and Josh was wondering if I had any of his favorite team. Soon many of the boys were naming their favorite teams and asking about cards. I talked to the house parents and went home and gathered up some cards that they can use as rewards if those students maintain good grades and good behavior. Incentives can be a good thing.

I spent a good deal of time in the office this afternoon. I like Sundays to be a day of rest, but we have our Clergy Days, donor luncheons in Connecticut and our Board of Directors meeting coming up in quick succession, and I feel anxious about all that needs to be done. When I get that anxious feeling the best thing for me is just to dive in and get done what I can. I did meet with Dean and Dominic, the two High School students who will represent St. Joseph’s at the luncheons, and had them practice what they want to say to our donors. They’re both excited.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ted Knife, a Lakota Deacon I used to work with on Cheyenne River Reservation, died after a long illness. I traveled to Red Scaffold for his funeral. It has been some time since I’ve been back to that community. When I arrived I could see the steam from the huge kettles boiling outside, cooking the beef to feed everyone afterwards. The men were standing around, stirring the pot and adding wood to the fire, remembering and telling stories. Like many funerals, besides the sadness, there are times when it feels like a family reunion because you get to see many people that were an important part of your life.

I remember Ted’s laughter and jovial nature, but he could also lecture and scold when he saw things he didn’t think were right. Ted served on the Tribal Council for many years and one of the former Tribal Chairmen said that he was often the conscience of the council, reminding them that to do right for the people, they had to do right by God.

 Ted was buried in a simple, yet beautiful pine box, with his cattle brand emblazoned on the outside. The casket was lowered by hand into the grave behind the church where he preached and gave so much of himself for the 23 years he was ordained. The casket bearers passed around shovels and covered the grave themselves.

The hall was decorated with many star quilts and blankets covering the walls. After the meal I was one of those honored with the gift of a quilt. I was grateful to be able to be with the family and community on this day.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

4 thoughts on “Remembering a Lakota Deacon”

  1. This up-date is very touching, and warming to my heart. It is so obvious of those that are so believing, and have asked, as they shall receive, and those that have been given; as they have asked. This PINE BOX’, is the most BEAUTIFUL of ALL, as it comes from the earth that is borne to us for eternal being. As said, “We shall reap what we have sowed; and there is no exception.” This is what my Father’, would say to us, his children….as he also BELIEVED.


  2. Funerals bring memories and a sort of closeness that never leaves the people who are joined in it. I once sang a Requiem High Mass for a family of six children and their parents in Kansas. A tornado wiped them out. One girl lived. She was the only one downstairs, She had stayed up because she had felt ill. After that, she lived with her aunt and their family. How fortunately that she was not left bereft as so many are today. I will never forget the two large coffins and the six small coffins passing under the choir loft, and being lined up at the altar rail…and one small girl weeping as she sat beside her aunt…Requiem en eternam…
    Love and Prayers.
    Mia and Bob

  3. A loving, moving blog posting. It sounds like Ted Knife was a special man. It’s good to know something about him even though it had to come after his death. I’m glad you got to be there, for yourself and for the community.

  4. Reminding them that to do right for the people, you had to do right by God.

    I am thinking, ” If you do right by the people- You are doing right by the Creator.”

    Your Friend,
    Dark Owle

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