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Old 02-16-2005, 02:18 AM   #1
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That Church that wouldn't allow the Lakota funeral of my Grandma

undefinedMuriel Waukazoo was my mother's mother, I am her granddaughter. Here is the original article http://www.insidebayarea.com/searchresults/ci_2559726.


On the 7th of February, one day after my Grandma's passing we were told, it was inappropriate to be Indian. The interim pastor there, Larry Nimms (a Black man, not in a bad way, his race will come up later) knew NOTHING about the drum and what it means to our people. He had never even heard the drum. Yet, he said he spoke to "several" Indian people who said that basically, the drums will bring the demons. My uncle Marty let the family and friends who came to the "meeting" on allowing the drum at the AMERICAN INDIAN BAPTIST church (there was about 40 of us there) that it's okay to be Indian after basically being told it wasn't. My Grandma told me when I was conflicted about being Catholic and being Lakota, she said "You are praying to the same God". After that, I was at peace. The deacon, who was supposedly an Indian was involved with that church when my Grandpa passed in 1984, didn't have a problem when we had the drum during his service. In 21 yrs he managed to change his mind about his people. He also made it personal againist her, "She was too active". Everything my Grandma did in her life here was for to give other indians a chance, a chance to change, a chance to be Indian without interferance. That church says our drums bring out the deamons, but they allow a Nigerian (I believe that's where they are from) group to use that church regalia and drums in all. How are the Nigerian drums different than the American Indian ones? That deacon said, "they just are". I don't know about you, but that wasn't good enough for me. They said we could drum in the parking lot and have my grandma's service in the basement. No funeral belongs in a dingy basement. We ended up having the services (which included the traditional wake) at a nearby Catholic Church. Father Galvan and the parish of the church of the Assumption were to inviting and welcoming to my grieving family. My Grandma gave me her name and I can only hope to be as strong as her.






Muriel “Grandma” Waukazoo - passed away peacefully on February 6, 2005 at the age of 88. Born Muriel Florence Blacksmith in Rosebud, South Dakota to Gilbert and Mary (Prue) Blacksmith, she is preceded in death by her husband, Philip Waukazoo. Muriel is survived by her beloved children, Mary Carr, Phyllis Waukazoo, Sally Gallegos and her husband Ted, Martin Waukazoo and his wife Helen, Francis Waukazoo and his wife Anne and Joseph Waukazoo and his wife Marlena; 19 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, and 9 great-great grandchildren; and many adopted children and grandchildren.

Known to many simply as “Grandma”, Muriel’s Lakota name was “Strong Hearted Woman” (Cante Suta Win) and that’s exactly what she was. A dedicated American Indian and civil rights activist, she participated in and held prestigious positions on many committees and organizations, from grass roots to governmental, including the Native American Parent Committee, Western South Dakota Community Action, Advisory to Native American programs of Black Hills State College, United Urban Indian Council, National American Indian Mental Health Committee, Indian Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Commission, United Native Americans, Rapid City Indian Service Council, South Dakota’s Low Income Council and American Indian Coalition Citizens, and the Rapid City Democratic Precinct Committee and the American Indian Movement (AIM). She was also the founder of the Indian Welfare Rights Organization.

In 1970, Muriel joined other women elders in Rapid City, South Dakota in organizing a protest at Mount Rushmore to assert the Lakota claim to the Black Hills under the 1868 Treaty. This group of American Indian women invited the United Native American and the American Indian Movement to help with the takeover of Mt. Rushmore. In following years Muriel was actively involved at the confrontation at Custer, South Dakota and the occupation at Wounded Knee in 1973. Muriel's activism in the 1960's and 1970's was a great display of her life’s work -- to overcome the prejudices and injustices within the Indian communities.

In recognition of her efforts on behalf of her people, Muriel was voted Indian Woman of the Year in 1971 from the United Natives of America and Indian of the Year in 1975 from the San Mateo Indian Council.

She was a remarkable and generous person who was devoted to keeping Indian traditions alive. Her passion for living was contagious and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.

Family and friends are invited to attend a Wake Service at 7:00 p.m. on February 10, 2005 at Assumption Church, 1100 Fulton Avenue, San Leandro. A Funeral service will be held on February 11, 2005 at 10:30 a.m. at Assumption Church. Interment will follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward
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Old 02-16-2005, 12:53 PM   #2
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So Sorry!

I am so sorry for your loss and for the difficulty your family went through when trying to honor your grandmother in her passing! It brings back so many emotions from when I lost my grandmother last year. You're in my prayers!
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Old 02-16-2005, 02:56 PM   #3
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God bless you and your grandmother; who is looking down on you now with great pride! Bobby Schmidt told me about your grandma's passing when it occurred and I was horrified to hear about how you all were treated.

Hearing the details from you now makes me even madder. Your grandma did great things for the Native community in the Bay Area; and was a shining star among those of us promoting Wellbriety, being drug and alcohol free, in the Native community.

Fact: the Baptist Church tends to be pretty conservative and rigid. Still, there is a definite need for some diversity training at the American Indian Baptist Church. Regardless of where the Black pastor was from, you would expect a bit more sensitivity from a member of another oppressed people. It is not uncommon for many denominations to encourage pride among its congregation; and that means liturgy that includes dance and music of those indigenous people whether their ancestors were captured by slave traders in Africa and imported here; or whether they were Native peoples with ancestral lands where that Church stands. Lifting your voice in praise is a personal thing, but highly encouraged in The Holy Bible; and for somebody else to condemn it as being demonic strikes me as being as unChristian as you can get. African drums are no more satanic than Native drums. The only connection I can vaguely see is that in the Caribbean, voodoo practitioners use drums in their own religious practice. Many of these voodoo practitioners claim ancestry from Black Africa. But that is where the similarity ends. Sounds to me like Mr. Nimms is kissing alot of a** and needs a wake up call.
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The Creator said, "A foreign race of white people will come, who will become your friends. You should treat them well."

The Creator sure had a strange sense of humor!

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Old 02-16-2005, 08:05 PM   #4
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First off thank you for the whole story! There was definitly more to it than the article that was posted. And now I'm mad that a woman of her character is treated this way after death. She must have just been incredible to grow up with! My most sincere condolences to you and your family.
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Old 02-19-2005, 03:03 AM   #5
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Thank you

Thank you for your kind words. The writer left a lot of stuff but thanks to her native people know about this. My Grandma was wonderful growing up...I only wish now that I took the time to write down her stories. Her life would have made a pretty interesting book.
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Old 02-19-2005, 07:41 PM   #6
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It's not too late to get a tape recorder or video camera and interview your family members and people who knew your grandma and tell her story from each of their perspectives.
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Old 02-19-2005, 10:24 PM   #7
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I was to say thank you also for telling us the whole story...I can not imagine what that felt like - my grandmother just passed in November = to have been told that we could not honor her the way we did - I dunno what we would've done. My prayers are with your family that she left this earth knowing what you all did to make her journey peaceful. Bless you all.

And like Blackbear said - it is so not too late...write down what you remember. It is still more than others have.....your grandchildren would sure appreciate it.

Again blessings to you...
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Old 02-22-2005, 06:25 AM   #8
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I am so sorry for your loss, and for the pain of having it compounded by ignorance and cruelty.
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