Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Azerbaijan Consul General Suleymanov finds kinship on the reservation

By Alyssa Kelly

During a recent visit with his Excellency Consul General Elin Suleymanov, Tribal Councilman Charles Morigeua presented the guest with a handcrafted flute as an honory gift. (Courtesy photo)
During a recent visit with his Excellency Consul General Elin Suleymanov, Tribal Councilman Charles Morigeua presented the guest with a handcrafted flute as an honory gift. (Courtesy photo)

ARLEE — What could a Eurasian Consul General and a Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Chairman have in common? Witnessing the kinship first hand, one University of Montana student says there is plenty.

His Excellency Consul General Elin Suleymanov recently traveled from sunny Los Angeles, California to present a speech during the Central Asian Conference for the University of Montana. Being from the Republic of Azerbaijan, which is the largest country in Eurasia, Suleymanov explained various aspects of his country including religion, the political structure, and various ceremonies practiced within the community.

Sparking the interest of U of M student Clay Benett, the Consul General mentioned similarities between the people Azebaijan and Native Americans in the U.S. “Because of the Bearing Straight theory that says Native Americans originate in the area that Elin is from, he said he felt a certain kinship for tribal people of the U.S. like brothers or cousins,” says Benett.

Growing up on the Flathead Indian Reservation, Benett invited Suleymanov and his wife to an honorary dinner on the Benett family ranch in Arlee. “He was really excited to see the reservation and meet with people from the Tribes,” says Benett. “So I invited Tribal Councilman Charles Morigeau and Harvey Sansavere, who is Blackfeet, to meet with him.”

Throughout the dinner, Suleymanov had the opportunity to ride horses and enjoy a jingle dress dancing presentation by Sansavere’s daughters. He was also able to learn about the construction of a teepee, which is the traditional dwelling of Great Plains’ tribes. “He enjoyed his time here so much,” says Benett. “He was really honored when Tribal Councilman Charles Morigeau presented him with a flute, which was constructed by Kenneth White.”

Benett says because Suleymanov and his wife's enjoyable time on the Flathead Reservation, they plan to return in the near future, possibly during the Arlee Powwow Celebration in July. “He says that the next time he visits, he plans to bring traditional dancers from Azerbaijan to share a piece of his culture,” says Benett.

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