The Taking of a Relative

A friend from another reservation once told me, "Indians are always in mourning."  The statistics bear this out.  Indians have the shortest life span and are more likely to die from automobile and other accidents.   

Last week, a young man, Mark Fassatt, who was a friend of my sons passed to the Spirit World.  He was only 24 years old.  Last night, I attended his wake and I attended his funeral this morning.  The young man had many friends, so there were a lot of people at his wake.  

Right after he had passed away, a cousin of mine came up to me and reminded me Mark or his brother, Monty, (who are twins) had my son's name, "Joel," tattooed on his arm.  Joel, who was a close friend of Mark and Monty, went to the Spirit World almost eight years ago.

Due to their friendship with my son, Joel, and to show our sympathy and support for Monty in his time of great sorrow, we decided we wanted to do "something" for him.   What we decided to do was to invite him into our family in remembrance of his friendship with my son Joel.

Taking of a Relative.  I do know that there is a proper ceremony that is conducted when one person takes another as his/her relative (brother, sister, mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, niece, nephew).  However, in this case, we did not have time to follow the proper protocol, so I improvised.

After consulting with Monty's mother, we agreed I would make the announcement during the wake.  During the wake, after the services, my family and I went up by the mike where I took the mike and said this:

"A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of the night, I heard someone come into the house.  I keep the door locked, so I thought it was one of my sons.  I went back to sleep.  Later on, I got up to go to the bathroom, and I noticed two guys sleeping in the living room, one on the couch and the other on the EZ chair.  Curious, I went over to look; it was Mark and Monty.  Ever since my son Joel died, Mark and Monty would show up at my house every now and then, usually late at night looking for a place to sleep.  They would stay for a couple of hours after they woke up and then leave so I was not concerned.  Mark and Monty were close friends with my son, Joel, when they were little kids.  They spent a lot of time together, boxing, biking, or just hanging around.  They were heart broken when Joel died.  They cried long and hard at Joel's wake and funeral.  They also started to visit me after Joel died and their visits brought me a lot of comfort.  I want to apologize to anyone who feels what I am doing is inappropriate... I am going to take Monty as my son and as a brother to my sons.  Now I know there is a proper ceremony to "take a relative" and I will do that in the near future.  I just want Monty to know he is now part of my family."

With that, my cousin and son put a Star Quilt around Monty, and I asked the drum group to sing an appropriate song.  While the singers were singing, people came up and shook our hand, many telling me "it's a good thing you are doing, Erich."  

This morning, my son Marshall told me Monty asked him when would the "official" ceremony be?  I told Marshall as soon as I can arrange it.

I hope my family's action will bring some small degree of comfort to Monty and his family.  I know he and his brother brought me a lot of comfort when my son went to the Spirit World.  

Although I am saddened by Mark's death, I am also proud of my sons and relatives who took part in the activity - I am proud to be a Dakota.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Erich Longie published on February 25, 2009 7:04 PM.

Should You Live Like a Hermit? was the previous entry in this blog.

Views On The Fighting Sioux Logo by a Dakota Man is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.