Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Yaya’s Trunk: Stories from past

“A Memory for Carol”
By Lailani Upham

Melvin “Bunny” and his wife, Rena Running Rabbit from the Blackfeet Reservation, were well known by the Elmo and Arlee powwow and stick game families. “People from Elmo called her Mrs. Bunny. They never missed Elmo or Arlee celebrations for anything,” stated Carol Ahenakew, their daughter. Rena, passed away on July 23, 2013 and her dad Bunny passed away on December 14, 2013. They were married for 67 years. (Courtesy photo) Melvin “Bunny” and his wife, Rena Running Rabbit from the Blackfeet Reservation, were well known by the Elmo and Arlee powwow and stick game families. “People from Elmo called her Mrs. Bunny. They never missed Elmo or Arlee celebrations for anything,” stated Carol Ahenakew, their daughter. Rena, passed away on July 23, 2013 and her dad Bunny passed away on December 14, 2013. They were married for 67 years. (Courtesy photo)

PABLO — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Social Service’s Circle of Trust Program is launching a new column called “Yaya’s Trunk” in the Char-Koosta News that will be featured every week for the Positive Indian Parenting curriculum.

The column will be a collection of stories from community members to carry on the teachings and stories of the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille. The stories reinforce the value of traditional beliefs and practices in daily lives of the families that are served, according to Mary Jane Charlo, Circle of Trust Youth Activities Coordinator.

CSKT Positive Parenting would like to urge community elders and parents to share their stories from years back, or any experience to help build a connection to the now and the past.

The personal short stories will be included in the curriculum of the program in the context of teaching mindfulness and to strengthen youth connection to tribal culture by naturally introducing practices and stories of native tradition, Charlo says.

“Your stories don’t have to be remarkable or heart stopping, just something taught you or learned something from it, and how to be a good person.”

Charlo says the staff is ready to help anyone write their story if they choose to simply tell it. She said the staff understand there are some folks that don’t feel comfortable writing. It is more important that the stories are carried down to the next generation she says.

Old photos would be appreciated with stories submitted.

To contribute stories, please call Mary Jane Charlo at (406) 675-2700, ext. 1333; or email at maryjanec@cskt.org.

Darnell Auld, of Elmo, writes this week’s story “A Memory for Carol,” a story about Carol Ahenakew’s parents: Melvin, “Bunny” and Rena Running Rabbit of Browning.

“When Darnell Auld gave the story to me about my parents to read, it was like watching a video, because that was exactly how my parents were, always early for Elmo celebration. Much Thanks to Darnell Auld; from Elmo, she was so kind to share a precious story of my parents,” Ahenakew stated.

“Mom loved the way the Caye’s sang, she said, ‘They have beautiful songs.’”

“This comes from a time when Bunny (that’s all I ever knew him by) and his wife (again, I didn’t know her name, just that she was his wife and they played stick game all the time) came to Elmo to play.

Friday afternoon they get to the rounds and are looking for the old arbor where we used to play. That was torn down in the spring sometime so he kind of drives around and sees the tent. He drives real close and we are getting set up at this time. He parks his car, gets out and his grandson is in the process of getting their camp set up. He nods at them and they come over and sit down. We are across the way and he sits nearest to the way he came in. There is no one else there except us (him and company; us kids from Elmo). So, we walk over and get our money out and proceed to start making bets and start playing. Needless to say, that night he whipped up on us. But that was a great time. I so loved watching him guess the second time and having the bones in his hands waiting for you to either be stubborn and not open, and then him waving his hands at you to throw the bones over like he knew that he caught you (which, he did many time to me, haha). And you giving up the bones to him.

Saturday, this is tournament day mind you and we are in the process of playing and there are a good number of teams in Elmo (about 30 plus) playing and it’s hot out, but we start in the afternoon and the games are going strong. I don’t see Carol anywhere, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t there, it’s just that I don’t see her. The people on Dayton Bourchard’s team are: Dayton, Big John Eneas, Bunny, his wife and one of their daughters. They make it all the way to the hot seat without any losses and are just waiting for the loser’s bracket to finish up. We finally finish out the losers bracket with us being one loss and them being undefeated. The tournament is well past midnight and I look at them they are sitting in the same spot that Bunny was sitting in when we played him on Friday. I can’t believe it. I think to myself that we are going down in flames tonight, but at least we made it this far. So we start playing and Dayton misses me and I make another stick. (I haven’t played in a tournament in years since I started working the bracket in Elmo; so most of these people don’t know my strategy). Dayton hands the point off to Bunny (here I am thinking okay he gots me), but I make another stick…didn’t that just happen? I must have stunned him too cause he’s looking at me too. I giggle cause I don’t know what to think and he gives the point back to Dayton. Well, needless to say that game was over pretty quick after that. This is their first loss, we have to play again. I look at them and this time it’s almost two in the morning and we are starting the next game. The air is getting a tad bit chilly, but not Wellpinit chilly, just a slight chill. So we start playing again and I get away again. I am making all kinds of sticks and we are getting excited. They finally give the point to Bunny’s wife (she was sleeping in her chair) and she gets the bones and proceeds to hide. We are still singing and she gets done pulls her hands out of her blanket and then crossed them across her body. She’s waiting for me to point her and I look at my team and they look back at me. I shrug my shoulders cause I don’t know what to do so I ask, “Should I just open up?” They nod at me, “Yes” and I nod back “Okay.” I open up my hands and show her. She thinks that I missed her and she starts showing off for her team and they are looking at her. Finally, Bunny looks at her shakes his head and screams, “You was guessing her, and she got away from you…” Mrs. Bunny and daughter are laughing and we are laughing too cause she didn’t realize what was going on because she was sleeping. He was a great competitor, how I shall miss seeing him.”

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