Featured Photo: Chief David Beautiful Bald Eagle Walks On

Featured Photo: Chief David Beautiful Bald Eagle Walks On

By: 
ICTMN Staff
8/5/16

 

In the way a 97-year-old traditional Miniconjou Lakota Chief knows, David Beautiful Bald Eagle, Waniyetu Opi, knew in early April: He would be leaving soon. He told his wife, Josee, of 44 years: “This is it. Call the kids.”

From his hospital bed in Rapid City Regional Hospital where he had been struck with double pneumonia, his family visited. “We had people up on that third floor—we were driving the staff nuts. Kids running in the hallway… picnicking in the waiting room. The doctor even brought his birthday cake. At one time there was 30 people in that little room,” Josee laughs. “Singing and smudging. The nurse went to close the door and we said: Sorry ma’am, this is a cultural thing, this is picking him up.”

All the family members in the Chief’s tiyospaye were given time alone at his bedside. Finally, as the passage drew near, his sons and daughters were called and given instructions to carry out in preparation. This included, at a chosen spot in a little cottonwood draw near the family ranch house, four days on a scaffold, after the manner of his ancestors, and then burial at the Sturgis National Cemetery.

RELATED: On a Scaffold to His Ancestors: Chief David Beautiful Bald Eagle Walks On

This image was featured in this week’s Indian Country Today Media Network newsletter.

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