The “Nakota” Souix (pronounced nah-KO-tah ) is the tribe’s name for themselves and may mean“friends” or “allies.” It comes from the Yankton word, Nakhota, sometimes translated as “alliance of friends.” another meaning for the name is “those who consider themselves kindred.”
Earlier this year I was contacted by a very special man, Jesse-Blue Forrest Sequoyah-Blue Deer Eagle who reached out to me to commission an eagle pipe that would be used in ceremony over several years as this pipe was to take a long journey across Canada on what is now known as the Tree of Unity Peace Walk.
Once I had accepted this commission which was and is a great honor, I knew I had an important task set before me. As I pondered the path I would take to craft the sacred pipe that was to be an Eagle pipe I for some reason decided to start two pipes at the same time, one of which is the pipe you see before you here and the other at the top of this post. It was made very clear to me the importance of the commission I was about to undertake and the very next day I started on the journey with great passion – a journey that would end with two pipes.
The most important task was to complete the Tree of Unity Peace Walk pipe then I could focus on the second pipe to follow which I am calling “Anukasa and the Range – Nakhota, Alliance of Friends”. This eagle pipe will be seen by thousands of people at the upcoming Western Design Conference to be held this weekend here in Jackson Hole Wyoming. I am hoping to share a small glimpse into the world of the Sacred Pipe by way of display.
As many of you know I live in Jackson Hole Wyoming, home of the Teton Mountain Range, known worldwide. This powerful mountain range rises above the Teton Valley and it is the Southern Gateway into the Yellowstone Basin. Les Trois Tetons it is believed was the name given to the mountain range by the Iroquois or French Canadian trappers in the very early 1800’s. Since then these majestic peaks have been called by many names.
It is a very rare event that I trek north of Jackson Hole when I do not see one or more Bald Eagles soaring around the valley and into the base of these mountains. When you see the majesty of these magnificent birds and how they interact with Mother Earth and her ranges it is clear there is an Alliance of Friends or another way of saying it is Nakota or Nakhota which are names used to describe today’s Assiniboine First Nations People.
So why use this translation and not something else? Well truth be told all of the Sacred Pipestone I receive comes from a single family who are Assiniboine descendants and they live on the Assiniboine Reservations located in Northeastern Montana. Donovan Archambault is my Assiniboine Elder Mentor, a Master Pipe Maker in his own right. Each summer Donovan and younger parts of his family travel back to their ancestral region in Minnesota to hand quarry the sacred stone from Mother Earth. It is then hauled back from Minnesota to Montana where I gather stone that was hand quarried and allotted for me.
So it is in this spirit that I use the Name of the Nakota people and their indigenous language translation for the name “Eagle”. When you see these powerful and very sacred birds interact with the nature that surrounds us here in the Yellowstone Basin you can certainly grasp the Alliance that must take place between their very nature and Mother Earth in order for them to survive.