Friday, May 04, 2007

Champion Gene

As a tribute to a friend, I'm posting this picture of Gene.

During the last year, he and I spent almost every Friday together in ceremony with a small circle of men.

Standing around the fire, we often joke about a non-existent book of Indian Protocol, simply called "The Handbook." I forget the exact circumstances surrounding the inception of our Book of Rules, but I'm sure Gene had a hand in its creation. I believe he presented a question about a matter of ceremonial procedure, and before anyone could answer, I blurted out, "According to the Indian Manual, chapter 7 verse 23, these matters are usually not considered acceptable." Of course, I was poking fun at his insistence on following strict procedure, when all we ever really do is follow our hearts. Everyone laughed and a new running joke was born.

Some time later, he returned from a stickgame tournament on a neighboring reservation and reported a major victory. His team took first place and won a large cash prize, an embroidered jacket, and a color photograph of the winning team in the Rawhide Press. He must have talked about that experience for at least a month. And every time a new person came along, his face would light up with the chance to tell the story one more time.

Of course, I said we would have to amend the handbook to change his official title in our little ceremony. "From now on," I said with mock solemnity, "You shall be styled Champion Gene." Once again, we all got a good laugh.

I'm glad to know Gene. He adds a new dimension to my spirituality, and brings a feeling of brotherhood and laughter.

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