Tiyospaye – extended family

The eldest elder on the Lower Brule Reservation in South Dakota, 96-year-old Mabel Driving Hawk, was buried today. When I was pastor in Lower Brule, I often stopped by her home to take her communion when Mabel wasn’t well enough to come to church. Mabel always had a houseful of grandchildren, or great-grandchildren that she was looking after. Counting 31 great-great grandchildren she had 151 living descendents!

When big crowds are expected, families often move the services to the larger community center, but Mabel made it clear she wanted to have her funeral in the church that she belonged to for so many years. Fr. Joe led the services, and I just helped out by being there. More than anything else, I enjoyed standing at the entrance to the church hall, where the viewing was going on, and saying hello to her Tiyospayeextended family as they streamed in. Some were St. Joseph’s students. Many other I’ve had some connection with in my years in this part of the country. Dave and Jean, houseparents at St. Joseph’s Indian School also came. They are close to one of the granddaughters and were asked to be her godparents, so they’ve kept the connection over the years.

Four singers carried and played the drum while leading us all to the cemetery. Afterwards, we gathered back at the hall for a meal and conversations about the memories about Mabel and catching up with one another.

In the evening, I met with a couple to begin their marriage preparation. I still occasionally fill in were needed in the parishes. I haven’t done a wedding in a couple of years, but I’ve done enough that I won’t forget how.

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.

2 thoughts on “Tiyospaye – extended family”

    I just feel so much compassion, for ones that do so much to help others’-without a motive of something for themselves. This is what I have always seen or felt of Fr. Steve…..; for some unknown reason, HE touches my heart in a spiritual way….and I am also so BLESSED by this.- I know the mourning family were so appreciative of your presence also. Then the wedding, Just don’t forget any of the words, as when the National Anthem was sang at the Super Bowl this year. GOD BLESS YOU, FR. STEVE, for being a BLESSING to so many others. My PRAYERS are always with you.
    Cynthia MILLER’- Skaggs
    Fort Worth, Texas

  2. Father Steve..you touch everyone..!
    And we are all inclined to touch you back..! The world need this sort of thing soooo much..We are all sooo grateful to know you..!
    Prayers and hugs..
    Mia and Bob

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