Friday, August 08, 2008
The Big Eagle || 1916 - 2008
©2008 Turtle Heart, Photo and Text
I carried your red body into the open sky
Grandmother has opened her arms and become the moon
Changing woman, changing lives, changing dreams
You have passed through the sky
Carried like the smoke, today we sing, we remember
We enter the great wind, the eastern gate
The bloody past and the ancient future
As we pass with you and through you
All around you where we find ourselves, find ourselves
And empty the sacred bowl
Sacred and empty
At 92 years, the Tribal Chief of the tiniest and oldest American Indian Reservation has passed away. Chief Aurelius Piper was a great character. He was strong, tough, brave as 10 other men and gigantic in stature. He was named perfectly among tribal people as Big Eagle and he was the Hereditary Chief of the Golden Hill Paugussett of Trumball, Connecticut.
While more famous American Indians have made their progress and notice in this world, Big Eagle was a force unique among tribes. His tiny tribe on his tiny land was the nest of a great Eagle. From there he touched the entire world, several times.
Though not federally recognized, the Paugussett Tribe was recognized for over 300 years by the state government. His reservation was the VERY FIRST reservation for American Indians and was imposed in the early 1600’s. Most Federal tribal reservations were established in the mid to late 1800s.
He was tough as ten sailors. Behind his fierce nature was a strong, intelligent mind with formidable instincts. I am sure very few of the people close to him understood him very well.
We have lost a Gate Keeper and most likely the Gate he was keeping.
Big Eagle gifted me my first ceremonial clothing. As a young man I was called upon to work Sacred Ceremonies for Big Eagle but had no real tribal ceremonial clothes at that time. He gave me some of his own ceremonial clothes from when he was much younger. I still wear the leggings he gifted me so many years ago. They are shown in the photo above.
Big Eagle played upon the Mother Earth like it was a mighty drum. His determination and personal resolve was formidable and a lesson and example in life for every American Indian on this earth. I was proud and amazed to know him, to love him, and for a while to serve him.
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