This past Thursday, March 7, I had the honor and privilege of going to the most beautiful celebration of life I’ve ever attended in my 60 years. The traditional Ojibwa funeral was for Audrey Swan, a friend from the Pine Point/Ponsford area of the White Earth Reservation.
Services were held at the gymnasium of the Pine Point School. The front of the packed gym was decorated with many gorgeous, handmade star quilts and beautiful wool blankets. Many, many beautiful plants and flowers lined the blanked-covered tables and walls on either side of the casket. The casket was wood and lined with a beautiful, aqua blanket to keep its occupant warm on her journey.
There was a constant stream of family, friends and community members coming through the doors with food for the feast to follow the service. The traditional ceremony started with four beautiful songs by the drum group. The drum group continued as all in attendance were given a chance to say a final farewell … the line of people stretched around the gym. This awesome group continued for an hour and 36 minutes – until everyone said their goodbyes.
When the ceremony was over, chairs were moved, tables came out and food appeared from the kitchen. Within minutes, a 50-foot food line was set up. Family and friends had time to visit and share a wonderful feast.
You hear so much now days about all the bad things going on in our world. TV and newspapers seem to sensationalize killings, drugs, etc. that happen on the reservation. This celebration of life is an example of the good that goes on here. Many hundreds of people attended this beautiful service to honor a loved servant and resident of the Pine Point community. My husband, Bill Smith and I were there for about four and a half hours celebrating the life of this beautiful woman who was taken from her life way too early. What an awesome way to send a loved one on their journey home.
Jane M. Smith