ON THE REZ ROAD
The Cheyenne River Reservation grew quiet for a short while after the first White Buffalo Calf Pipe Ceremony and Sun Dance in 1971. [ NOTE: The first Ceremony was celebrated by Fools Crow in 1970 and Calvin Dupree was one of the dancers, because the 1971 Ceremony and Sun Dance was the first “public” ceremony it is referred to as the First Ceremony and Sun Dance.]
It is noted that of all the pictures Fools Crow allowed to be taken at the first White Buffalo Calf Pipe Ceremony and Sun Dance, Arvol Looking Horse is not in any of them.
As Lakota elders were trying desperately to save the ceremonies and old cultural values, constant encroachment by modern society and its attendant moral decay were tearing the people apart.
Trouble was all over Sioux country. Greed and political oppression from tribal governments and the federal government added more fuel to the fire.
Crime on the reservation was at an all-time high. Gangs of ruffians wearing the banner of political reform terrorized the people. Beatings, rape, robbery and murder were common-place.
Indian militants were organizing everywhere on the reservations. There was not one single goal or target they had in mind or even an intelligent list of demands, they simply lashed out. Or were they simply lashing out?
It was not until after the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973 and the support they received from various elders, including Fools Crow, that the Indian Movement gained credibility and they were able to articulate their grievances.
In the meantime, Calvin Dupree and his daughter had returned to Seattle where they both settled back into quiet academic life. He was teaching and she was a student.
The reservation frightened Suzanne and had since she was a child. She did not understand the constant political turmoil that seemed to envelop every family. She closed her eyes against the rampant crime and she did not feel safe there.
Suzanne says that she did not feel like she belonged there. It was war-zone in her mind and the reservation was not a place she wanted to be – at least not for very long after spiritual ceremonies.
Life in the Seattle area was comfortable for the Dupree family and the C'anupa Wakan was safe and well cared for by Calvin who performed daily prayer ceremonies with the Pipe according to Lakota protocols.
Dupree claims Frank Fools Crow's first objective was now accomplished. The most sacred object in Sioux culture was now safely off the reservation and away from the hands of those who would misuse and possibly abuse the Pipe.
THE NAMING CEREMONY
Click here to view The article that appeared in the Eagle Butte News in August 1975. According to the article, "Prayers with the Sacred Calf Pipe Bundle will include the great vision we are about to see…" The White Buffalo Calf Woman Pipe was being shared to bring strength and hope to the Lakota people.
During the Sun Dance in 1975, Suzanne danced in support of her father and went to the Tree of Life, she laid her hands on the center pole and prayed just before the dancers pulled backwards against the tethers buried in their chests and tied to the pole.
Suzanne remembers she was concerned about her father and could feel the tremendous pain he endured, so she kept her eye on him throughout the dance.
After the dancers had broken loose, the C'anupa Wakan ceremony was conducted.
During closing ceremonies, Fools Crow, John Fire Lame Deer, Chauncey Dupris and other spiritual elders summoned the 21 year-old Suzanne Dupree and others into the circle. The timid Suzanne shyly walked with her father into the circle and stood as Fools Crow spoke quietly with each person.
Finally as it came her turn, Calvin Dupree stepped forward and gifted Fools Crow with tobacco. Accepting the gift, Fools Crow looked deeply into Suzanne's eyes and said, "You shall be called Looking Back Woman. You are named after a relative from the 1890 Wounded Knee."
Calvin Dupree looked surprised and frowned when he heard the name. He quickly took Fools Crow aside and gifted him with more tobacco and a carton of cigarettes asking that the name be changed.
Fools Crow refused saying, "This is her name from the beginning and to the end."
Then a crowd of people lined up in front of Looking Back Woman and each presented her with a variety of beaded medallions, chokers, head bands, ear rings, and other gifts amid hand shaking, hugs and kisses.
Finally the old medicine man, Chauncey Dupris stepped forward and said, "This is a gift for you from your people, I remade the bowl for you with my own hands."
The pipe was beautiful, says Suzanne. "It is very unique and was made entirely from the red pipe stone, including the stem. It is made in three parts and colored ribbons hang from the stem symbolizing the four sacred directions. I have that pipe to this day."
There is some conjecture about the name, Looking Back Woman, among those close to Suzanne. She thinks Fools Crow may have given her that name because while she was at the Tree of Life at the Sun Dance, she continually turned her head to keep an eye on her father.
Others say the name refers to a passage in the story about the White Buffalo Calf Woman that says she paused, turned and looked back at the people one last time before she disappeared over the horizon.
Still others say the name came from a woman killed at Wounded Knee in 1890, just as Fools Crow said.
Interestingly, it is said the sacred First Pipe was at Wounded Knee on that terrible day of massacre and it was a Lakota called Looking Back Woman who saved the Pipe from desecration or destruction.
According to Dupree, the second step in Fools Crow's plan was now complete.
As provided by Lakota protocols, Suzanne completed her Isha Ta Awi Cha Lowan — Preparing for Womanhood ceremony — in 1972 and in 1975 she danced at the Sun Dance in support of her father.
Now, Suzanne had been recognized and honored with a name befitting her new walk in life.
TWO DEATHS AND THE PASSING OF THE PIPE
Many years passed and everyone in the Fools Crow camp was quiet about the Pipe. One way to protect the Pipe was not to talk about it. Others kept quiet because silence had become a way of life on the reservation amid all the violence and political turmoil.
Fools Crow was now in his eighties and having serious health problems. The Dupree family did not participate in the Sun Dance and Calf Pipe Ceremony at Green Grass after 1975, but for many years Calvin continued to bring the Sacred Pipe to Fools Crow for small private ceremonies.
On November 27, 1989, the Ceremonial Chief of the Western Teton Sioux passed away. At the time of his death, Fools Crow was living in a dilapidated trailer on his daughter's property with no electrical power or water. He was a poor man throughout his life, but his last years were especially difficult.
Thomas Mails, his long time friend and biographer reports that Fools Crow was an angry man during his closing years. He did not like the way people were falling prey to selfish, angry behavior, greed and government hand-outs.
Most of all he did not like it that the people were turning their back on traditional ways. He was especially angry with the militants whom he once supported during the occupation of Wounded Knee.
Interest in American Indian culture among dominant white society was growing rapidly in the 1980s. Everybody wanted to be a medicine man and preach the Indian gospel. Many Indian shamans were running around the country looking for easy pickings among the hungry white masses.
They were selling sacred ceremonies for big bucks and that is what angered Fools Crow the most. To make matters worse, the only people on the reservation outside tribal government who had any power to stop the desecration of holy ceremonies were the militants and they were among the worst offenders.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Fools Crow anticipated the sad events that were slowly unfolding in the late 1980s. The dreadful social circumstances he feared the most were transpiring at the time of his death.
Dupree says the provisions Frank Fools Crow made for the safety and proper care of the C'anupa Wakan may not have been all that he wanted for his children, the Lakota people, but it most likely was a consoling bright spot in his mind and heart as he died.
Five years after Fools Crow passed away, Calvin Dupree died on June 22, 1994 while in Alberta, Canada. He had been ill with liver cancer for over a year and near the end he was passing in and out of a coma.
After suddenly regaining consciousness one day about a week before his passing, he called Suzanne to his bedside and told her to bring him the Pipe.
As Bill Loutcel, colleague of Calvin's from the university looked on, Calvin said to Suzanne as she held the Sacred Pipe, "This is the past, present and future of your nation. Do not allow them to pass from your hand. If the He [the Creator] loves you, He will not abandon you." Then, Calvin Dupree went back to sleep.
Suzanne was surprised at the clarity of his thoughts and words during those sad moments. She often thinks about those prophetic words and the depth of his understanding of true Lakota ways.
He was the appointed carrier of the sacred C'anupa Wakan according to Lakota protocols. He walked silently and reverently with the Pipe, never once calling attention to himself or seeking accolades as the Keeper of the Sacred Bundle.
Quietly he walked with the eagles and the buffalo into the Spirit world beyond.
Because of government red tape, it took six weeks to transfer Dupree's body from Canada to the old Dupree Cemetery on the Cheyenne River Reservation. Services at the old cemetery featured a 21-gun salute by veterans of World War II and a large crowd of friends and relatives.
Suzanne was not present during funeral services because she was instructed by her father to leave his bedside and go home so the Pipe would be kept safe. Suzanne followed his instructions to the letter, regardless of not being there to bid her dear father and friend goodbye.
In 2000, Suzanne left the protection of her haven in Canada and ventured south to Ellensburg, Washington. While visiting with the people who were standing JR, one of her most prized horses; she learned from her cousin, Lisa, that some so-called traditionals had gotten into her father's coffin looking for the White Buffalo Calf Pipe after he had arrived for burial.
"You know they have been looking for that. The traditionals got into your dad's coffin looking for the Pipe," her cousin said pointing at the Sacred Bundle.
Suzanne was shocked and nearly beside herself with grief that anyone would disturb the dead.
No efforts were ever made to verify this story or go after the alleged perpetrators, but the story has found its way into the hushed conversations of many through the years. Suzanne believes those responsible for this barbaric act will receive a visit one day, if they have not already, from the spirit of retribution.
Since the time of her father's passing, Suzanne has always had the Pipe in her possession.
Today, Suzanne Dupree — Looking Back Woman — still holds the C'anupa Wakan. But, many things have changed over the years and many things are about to change.