Red Lake Elders (55 and older) came not only from reservation communities, but from Bois Forte, White Earth and Leech Lake, Duluth and the Twin Cities. They were coming home, coming home to visit with relatives and long-time friends.
An important part of the Gathering has been to provide a venue for youth and elders to interact and learn from each other and do it “anishaa.” Red Lake youth mixed with elders as volunteers, helping to serve meals, and providing information and entertainment.
Upon entering Seven Clans, the lobby was abuzz with old friends laughing and catching up on the latest news. Some were lined up registering for the Gathering. They received a tote bag, which was filled with agendas, an evaluation form, nomination form for King and Queen, and an array of small gifts.
Twenty-one informational booths, many detailing tribal programs and services available for elders, filled the available space left and right. Some visited these displays registering for prizes, while others chatted on comfy couches and chairs at the center of the lobby.
Others already seated in the Event Center sipped coffee while enjoying a hearty breakfast. Just before entering the center and off to the right, “Gatherers” chose a souvenir T-shirt. Turning around, one saw the convention center filled with more than 500 registrants, the largest ever, with nary an empty chair available. Many young men and women scurried about visiting with and assisting elders, highlighting again a key part of the Gathering, the mixing of youth and elders in intergenerational activities.
Monday, April 30, 2018
The event began with registration on Monday morning at 8. Around 9 a.m., Emcee Gary “Rez Dawg” Jourdain welcomed the crowd and gave a brief overview of the agenda. Spiritual Leader and Hereditary Chief Greeting Spears, offered the invocation. The Eyabay Drum filled the event center with the sound of the heart of the people, as the Red Lake Honor Guard posted the colors,
Next came a welcome by Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr. Seki, as is his custom, began his remarks in his first language, Ojibwemowin. An elder himself, Seki encouraged those present to talk to young people about this maazhi-mashkiki (bad medicine) that is ravaging the youth of the nation, drugs, alcohol, gangs, and suicide.
“500 years now, they’ve been trying to get rid of us, but we’re still here,” said Seki. “Drugs and opiates brought in by non-members we cannot prosecute. We have an unfriendly administration Washington, who continue with promises broken and treaties violated.”
Rose Cloud and Carol and John Barrett enjoying themselves
“Be friends with one another,” said Seki, “talk to your children and grandchildren. We as elders, we are the teachers, we have an obligation.”
Seki then excused himself informing those present that he’d be attending four groundbreakings at noon. They included a new Dialysis Center, Chemical Health Treatment Center, and two Fire Halls for Red Lake and Ponemah. “One never does these thngs alone,” noted Seki, “I want to thank the tribal council for sticking with these important initiatives, it’s taken awhile, but here we are. Miigwech!”
Oran Beaulieu, Director of Comp Health was first up. He spoke of personal care, provided home health care information and medicaid funding before introducing three EMT’s who spoke about the new Urgent Care building, now under construction, to take the weight off the emergency room. Beaulieu then introduced a team who spoke about Suicide Awareness.
Next up was Red Lake Director of Public Safety Officer Kelly Brunelle and other public safety personnel who educated elders on drug awareness and other topics. Brunelle and his team told what to watch for and symptoms of those who might be engaged in dangerous drug use or activity. The elders were very engaged in this exercise with both questions and comments. Brunelle introduced one of the K-9 units describing the work the dog does in regard to law enforcement. The team concentrated mostly on the opioid epidemic, a high priority with Tribal Government.
From 11 am to 12:30 pm, Elders were treated to music and comedy provided by the well-known and long time entertainers Williams and Ree aka “The Indian and the White Guy,” who are now appear to be Elders themselves.
Soon lunch was served in a quick and efficient manner by young people and event center employees.
After lunch, all those present were treated to an Ojibwe Puppet Show, while ballots were distributed for King and Queen, due back the next morning. From two to three pm, blotters and paper bingo cards were passed out with several folks winning some great prizes.
For the final formal activity of the afternoon, Hereditary Chief and Acting Tribal Secretary Darwin Sumner ran a PowerPoint presentation on the Chief Meskokonay Youth Cultural Camps he organizes and sponsors. He had several slides showing youth participating in cultural activities suited to the season.
During free time, some elders took advantage of the free cell phones available, clipper cuts for men, and more. Some perhaps, migrated to the casino. During both days, elders could get free photos taken at a Photo Booth staffed by Elwyn Jourdain Photography. A light supper was served at 5 pm.
In the evening people went their separate ways. But for those so inclined, a Late Night Session provided a little friendly competition for cash prizes. Games included Cribbage, and Slot Tournaments. Little by little competitors were eliminated with the following results as winners of first, second, and third place prizes of $200, $150 and $100 for each category.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
After breakfast, there was an opening prayer by Spiritual Elder and Hereditary Chief, Greeting Spears, and a welcome by Amber McNeal and Amaya Pemberton, along with Little Bear Drum Group.
This was followed by a much appreciated Youth Showcase. Students from the Middle School performed a song that they wrote for the elders. Amaya Pemberton showed off her gift of song by singing Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miners Daughter” and Patsy Clines, “Crazy.”
King & Queen Selection
King and Queen Robert “Earl” Fairbanks and June Holstein
Emcee Jourdain had explained earlier the ballot process for the selection of the 2018 Elders Gathering’s King and Queen, all coordinated by Barb Beaulieu and Lilah Beaulieu. The 2017 Queen and King were Carol Barrett and Roy A. Gordon Bailey, Bailey at the time had just celebrated is 100th birthday. He is Red Lake’s oldest known member.
The ballots counted, Barb Beaulieu announced that the 2017 Red Lake Gathering of Elders King and Queen, Robert “Earl” Fairbanks and June Holstein. Fairbanks and Holstein immediately took over the reign of the 2017 King and Queen, Bailey (now 101) and Barrett.
To finish out the morning, music entertainment was provided for the second year by “Travesty,” a five-man group from Turtle Mountain, who played mostly Country/Western, but could rock out a tune or two as well.