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Remembering Walter Blackwolf tell about his father

June 1, 2020

Seven years ago this month when he was still alive, Walter Blackwolf told me several stories about his father, James Blackwolf, Hat Keeper for the Northern Cheyenne.

Walter had health problems and phoned me from St. Vincent Hospital once in a while. I went up to visit him.

Walter’s grandfather was Ben Blackwolf and his great grandpa was Joseph Blackwolf (I’m not 100% sure about this last name. Oh, Walter told me correctly, but I’m not sure my memory is quite right.)

Example of story about Hat Keeper James Blackwolf: A van with a Sioux drum and drummers visited James at his house. The Sioux had had many people die prematurely recently and they sought help.

The Sioux medicine man saw James from a distance, and the people in the van gave James gifts. When they got out their big drum James told them to leave it outdoors!

“Don’t bring that drum into my home,” he said.

The reason? The drum had an image of a buffalo head. James told the group that their people would stop dying prematurely if they would wash the image off the drum head with a cloth and water from a coffee can. After washing the drum head, they should place the cloth into the water in the can, put on the lid, and bury the can in a certain way. After they did these things they could bring the drum into his house.

Walter said that after a long time–months–the people in the van returned and brought even more gifts to James. They said after they had done what he said to do, the people stopped dying prematurely. Walter explained that when the drummers drummed they had insulted the buffalo by banging on its image with their drum sticks.

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