Honour your Father and Mother

Story for Law 5: Honour and obey your father and mother ( given to me in meditation by  Calling Horse)

This law was necessary to keep the social fabric of the tribe intact. If people showed respect for their parents, it would make for a peaceful non-argumentative society. One’s place in the pecking order was known, and within in the family at least, one did not have to fight for it. When the old folks became unable to look after themselves (not a very frequent occurrence in my time) their offspring wouId care for them. This made it imperative for people to have a partner and a family as an insurance for care in old age.

In my tribe families were headed by the father or the grandfather. If the grandfather was alive then it would be his say which would be final on any major decision. However there were many, many decisions to be made and frequently the grandfather would hand over his authority for most, if not all decisions to his son, or his son ‘in law’.

There was once a big meeting about to be held. This was a meeting with a tribe which we frequently encountered and with which we were very friendly. Many of our families had intermarried and so in a sense the tribe had become quite mixed. However, each tribe did maintain its different customs as in each there was definitely a preponderance of the original tribe. On this occasion the meeting was concerning the matter of buffalo. It had been noticed that the herds seemed to be moving away from the area and the chiefs wanted to discuss the reasons why. They were very concerned about this since the buffalos were our main source of meat. A pow wow was held. It was decided that we should host the meeting and our tribe had therefore to prepare food and also make available bedding and bed space for the night. We set up a number of extra tipis for the visitors. We had to find more quarry than usual on our hunting expedition. This was rather a difficult task, because there was never any telling how much would be caught and we would always have fat days and lean days. However, this had to be a fat day; we had to make it so. I remember my father saying we should look in the direction of the hills for a good kill. I favoured another source of quarry. However father’s word was the law, so I obeyed him and went off with a group of 4 young braves to see what we could find. We were indeed fortunate. We caught two deer, large ones. Another group of hunters came back with some small animals, so we were well provided for. I asked my father if he had seen the animals in the area.

“No,” was his reply, “But I did ask the Great Spirit to show me where to send you hunting and he showed me that hill in my dream last night.”

Father asked the Great Spirit to show him good hunting grounds
Father asked the Great Spirit to show him good hunting grounds

Father had been right again. He was not always right, but it was always our custom to accept what our parents told us, so we did. Another little incident occurred at the time of the pow wow when my father was quite definitely not right. We had all gathered around to make the initial greeting to the visitors. My father had asked all of his family to be there, even my little sister who was not known for her quiet nature. She was a very talkative little girl and rather disobedient, but she was so pretty that everyone always indulged her. So there she was sitting at my mother’s feet, chattering away, when the chief was trying to have a polite and serious conversation for all to hear with the chief from the visiting tribe. My sister was describing the visiting chief to my mother in a very loud voice.

‘Mother.” she said, “Chief Running Deer looks very funny. He doesn’t have many feathers in his head dress. I don’t think he can be as important as our chief!”
My father winced and turned round to mother.

“You were right,” he whispered, take her away, she’ll get us into trouble.” He winked. Mother nodded and smiled and, holding my sister’s hand she led her away out of earshot. Father relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the meeting. Afterwards he asked us why no-one had reminded him of why he should not have had my little sister at the pow wow. “You’re the boss,” said my elder brother, “You always know best so we did what you asked, although we thought it was not such a good idea ourselves.”

”It is true,” said Father “that although I am not infallible, I am usually right, but please do not hesitate to correct me if you are sure that I am wrong!”

“Who can ever be sure about Yellow Fire, our sister? She is always taking us by surprise.” replied my brother, as Yellow Fire
pummelled him with her fists.

‘Well, I’m not going to marry anyone in their tribe.” said my sister, “I like chiefs with lots and lots of feathers and paint like they have in our tribe.” That was her last word on the subject.