By Roy Cook
is a fine time for storytelling. In the winter, the land rests. Winter
social events hold the tribe together. People can meet and talk, with
no distractions of the next daily work needing to be done. Their hearts
would he warmed by all the social activity and hard attitudes would soften.
Feasts are also a good time for young people to see and meet each other.
The oral tradition story of the tribe is often experienced in the songs
and dances. Their custom and tradition are very special to us. Likewise
the Tribal customs give us a moral framework for our lives. Customs surrounding
birth, death and initiation into adulthood and so on all played an important
part in the definition of the tribe and its members.
Many Native American
people found that the story of the European Christmas and Christ's birth
fulfilled aspects of oral tradition and found the message to be consistent
with the truth that was handed
down by their ancestors. Over time other social customs, that were introduced
to them by the European missionaries have become part of the native cultures
and are an integral part of Tribal Christmas traditions today. Tribal
traditions are mostly inclusive and bring into the ongoing, living tradition,
that which is good or desired. Much as new influences are in most non-Indian
The American-European version of St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus originally
the Dutch version called Sinter Klaas. This tradition was brought with
the Dutch people who settled Eastern Indian America at Amsterdam, New
Countless legends are told about the Patron Saint of Giving known as St.
Nicholas. He has been the patron saint of Russia, Moscow, Greece, children,
sailors, prisoners, bakers, pawnbrokers, shopkeepers and wolves.
His gift-giving role in Christmas rites probably comes from his fame as
the friend of children. This Christmas legend tells us that he also used
to give anonymous donations of gold coins to persons in need. His cult
spread in Europe and Christmas presents were distributed on December 6th
when the celebration of St. Nicholas took place.
Many Tribes, whom
accepted Christianity some 400 years ago, have the custom of a dance on
Christmas Eve or Christmas, where gifts are offered at the Manger. Other
gift bringers come at different times of the year, often in the summertime,
but the gifts are always a part of American Indian culture, whenever the
occasion is, for a tribal gathering.
many other tribes there are many representations of gifts brought to the
people. All life is a gift from the Creator. Our time on this earth is
but a dance. Listen to the wind and the sounds of the earth, there is
a song being sung each day.
Celebrate life and share the gifts of the Creator. In this way it will
This Holiday and at all times, for all our relations and Indian children,
Aho, Thank you, Mehan.