National Geographic’s Digital Nomad Andrew Evans spent time on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation this summer where he watched baby Madzigaleh Booth receive her Cree name, Sweetgrass Speaks For Her.
Here’s more from Evans’ visit:
The medicine man comes at five. Without any fanfare or announcement, the family quiets down and gathers beneath the cottonwood, listening carefully. The foul weather has departed an instead, there are warm gusts of soft wind and a recovering blue sky with wisps of white cloud.
A member of the Chippewa Cree nation of Rocky Boy, Dawn Houle holds her baby—little Madzigaleh Booth or “Madzi”. Her daughter’s given name means “flower” in Tsimshian, the language of her father, whose nation originates in southeast Alaska and eastern British Columbia.
But today, the baby will receive her Cree name—a traditional ceremony for so many Native Americans. Silence has fallen over the extended family and the medicine man is standing before the child, with a kind yet solemn face.
Dressed in a flannel coat, he folds a stretch of bright green cloth around his neck—the color of life and living and the color of Montana in summer.
. . .
As a stranger from a different world, I am touched to share such a sacred moment with this family. I watch them give traditional gifts to the medicine man—woolen blankets, sweetgrass, tobacco, and more eagle feathers—and thank him for what he has done.
And then he sits down next to me—this older man who serves his nation as a leader and healer and spiritual guide. His name is Walter and the two of us chat across the table. He explains what has transpired here, how he doesn’t know what name a child will have—but must wait and see what comes to him. Then he tells me the name he has given the child.
“Sweetgrass Speaks For Her,” he says plainly—though merely spoken, the name becomes a poem.
Read the rest of the post here.