"We are called to become hollow bones for our people, and anyone else we can help.
We are not supposed to seek power for our personal use and honor.
What we bones really become is the pipeline that connects Wakan Tanka, the helpers and the community together…"
~~Frank Fools Crow On Healing, Ceremonial Chief – Western Teton Sioux
At age 50, Suzanne Dupree is a simple, yet complex and deep thinking woman.
She remembers – everything. She does not always recall the mundane things from everyday living, but she remembers things never taught to her.
She calls up the warm wind on the prairie and the call of eagle in flight as if she were there. She summons up memories of laughter among the women who sat scraping buffalo hides after the big hunt. She remembers the ceremonies.
Suzanne lives frugally on a meager income from the occasional sale of a Paint horse or a Blue Merle Scotch collie, besides what she makes as a hairdresser.
Her days in a salon are few and she spends most her time with the animals or meditating with her Pipes.
Her conversations reach into a broad spectrum of subjects and she loves to just sit and talk quietly with a friend.
She is also tenacious – stubborn to the core about things she believes in and ready to take on giants in defense of what is right.
At times she is opinionated, but Suzanne is always ready to listen and alter her thinking if needed.
She also has a streak of suspicion running through her veins.
After years of protecting the Sacred Pipe and always looking over her
shoulder (Looking Back Woman?) she has a toughened exterior that is hard to penetrate.
She has an uncanny ability to discern the intentions of others with barely a word being spoken.
Several people who have crossed her path in the wrong way, almost always have lived to regret it – even though we note no animosity or revenge in her heart.
To the contrary, Suzanne is forgiving and sympathetic even in cases when the situation may lead others to scorn.
Like the shy little girl who first sat on Black Elk's lap to be gifted with a name, and the timid young woman who entered the Sun Dance circle to receive her second name thirty years ago, Looking Back Woman is still reserved and quiet around strangers and even among friends.
Her voice is light and subdued. She does not desire the spotlight, fame, fortune or honors.
She does feel strongly about getting the message of the Pipe and all it stands for out to all who will listen, and her voices raises when she feels that she is not being heard. It is obvious this is a source of deep passion for her.
In 2002 she lobbied for World Heritage status for the Peace Gardens located on the border between Canada and the United States.
She also worked to provide valuable information to archivists at the Moncur Gallery Museum about the seven Council Stones once used by the seven Sioux nations.
"The seven council stones represent the seven council fires and seven sacred ceremonies of the Pipe. They are important to our history and vital to the future of our ceremonies," said Looking Back Woman.
She also has performed ceremony with the Sacred Pipe at several family and private events such as the Keeping of the Souls Ceremony for her father in 1994; the Yuwipi ceremony in Kaslo, British Columbia in 1997; Inipi Oolwan ceremonies at Hornby Island in 2000; the Keeping of the Soul Ceremony for her mother at Spokane in 2001; a Grief Inipi Ceremony at Hornby Island in 2001; Putting together the Seven Sacred Stones Ceremony representing the Seven Council Fires and the Seven Sacred Ceremonies with the White Buffalo Calf Pipe together at Turtle Mountain in 2002.
Other than ceremonies between 1970 and 1975, there have been no public ceremonies with this C'anupa Wakan in Sioux territory since Fools Crow passed away.
The photos Fools Crow recorded for future generations show how we were to conduct ourselves and the White Buffalo Calf Pipe Ceremony and Sun Dance. That Pipe was used in ceremony prior to the government bans imposed in the 1800's.
In addition to the Pipe, Looking Back Woman has other important artifacts.
When Fools Crow passed the Sacred Pipe to Calvin Dupree, Lame Deer gave him the sacred chants and songs that are sung at the same time ceremonies are performed.
Looking Back Woman received the original and authentic chants sung by John Fire Lame Deer, from her father who always stored them in his medicine trunk.
Looking Back Woman also has the sacred hollow healing bone used by Grandfather Fools Crow
She also carries other significant Pipes in addition to the one gifted to her by Heyoka medicine man, Chauncey Dupris in 1975.
In 1988, Aunt Hazel Smith, wife of Joseph O. Smith, gave Calvin Dupree her husband's Pipe, dated 1922 in porcupine quills on the stem.
There is an interesting story told in the beadwork on the bundle holding this Pipe.
Both the Sacred Pipe and the Smith pipe were passed to her in 1994.
Aunt Hazel Smith also gifted Looking Back Woman with a beautiful hand-made dress (PICTURED HERE AND ABOVE).
The dress and accessories were made by Hazel's mother, Emma Lambert while in her late eighties.
The dress was made from five deer skins and has thousands of beads carefully sewn with sinew. The dress took one year to complete.
The dress was first worn by Aunt Hazel, then worn one time by Geraldine LeBeau while competing in the 1974 Miss Native America contest before it was gifted to Looking Back Woman.
Suzanne plans on donating the dress to a museum for permanent display after her passing.
It is with humility and honor that Looking Back Woman has carried the C'anupa Wakan and other important artifacts of the Sioux Nations many years.
She has not always understood the power and traditions of the Sacred Pipe as handed down through the generations.
She was a young college girl when her father passed the Pipe to her and she did not grasp the immense significance, spiritually and culturally, to the Seven Nations of the Great Sioux Oyate at that time.
Her awakening to the Pipe came slowly as a modern young lady, but as the years passed and especially after she was passed the Pipe, Looking Back Woman came to recognize with rock solid certainty its tremendous power and the people's need to witness it in ceremony.
She knows that she does not carry the C'anupa Wakan, it carries her.
She believes the Sacred Pipe's history, traditions and care are now the subject of great importance to all Sioux Nations and other Indigenous People everywhere, and that it is imperative that the C'anupa Wakan be presented to the people and the Creator in a good way.
The Pipe has not been hidden away from the people, but has been nurtured by a mother with no children. It has been renewed and strengthened by her love.
Now, that the time of preparation is nearly completed, she believes it is time to bring forth the power and energy of the Pipe so that all people and all nations may know its sublime message of hope.
But there may be obstacles standing between Looking Back Woman's desire to restore what she believes is the C'anupa Wakan to being seen and felt by the people.
There remain a few major obstacles to overcome before the C'anupa Wakan can be seen and felt by the people.
According to Dupree, there are powerful political, militant and religious factions who do not want the status quo to be upset.
It is alleged they attempted to steal the Pipe and threatened to forcefully take the Pipe. Physical violence is not uncommon on the reservation these days and it is a concern.
Is it possible that the words in a 1975 newspaper article announcing the Sun Dance and Calf Pipe Ceremony at Green Grass were a prophecy that actually did come to pass? "…Prayers with the Sacred Calf Pipe Bundle will include the great vision we are about to see so that all brothers and sisters will not suffer long…"
Did that vision come in the form of a beautiful, young Lakota woman named on that day, Looking Back Woman?
Dupree says Grandfather Fools Crow's visions and plans of the past all came to pass in a good way.
So, shall the visions and plans of Looking Back Woman be fulfilled in the future?
Listen to her message.