Me And Chief Peyote
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD - Brother Aloysius Weasel Bear likes to tell this tale about me and peyote, usually in a crowd of people.
“Brother was sitting there after the medicine had gone around a couple of times and got all peyotied up, and he looked at the fire and the medicine spoke to him, ‘What are you doing here? Take a look around. You haven’t got any relatives in here. These aren’t your waaaaaays. This is all ALIEN to you.’ ”
“Bro looked up at the fire, and looking left and right, pointed at his chest and asked, ‘Who?
“Medicine said, ‘YEAH, YOU. I’m talking to YOU! I want you to get up and get out of here and never come back. What are you doing here, anyway? You aren’t even supposed to BE here.’ ”
“Bro said, ‘They told me if I came in here and sat up all night, in the morning they’d feed me and give me a present.’ ”
“Medicine said, “NO! Get up and…no, don’t touch the drum. Just pass it. Pass the instruments. You aren’t going to sing. Get up right now and GET OUT!’ ”
“So Brother got up and went outside and was gone a long time, and somebody said go get him, so Brother Tom went out there and found him in a pup tent, trying to sleep, his foot keeping beat with that peyote drum, du du du du du du du du du.
“Tom tells him he’s gotta come back in for main smoke, and bro tells him to go away, leave him alone, but Tom says he can’t do that – a person has to sit up in there with everyone once they’ve taken in, so Bro comes back in and everybody is staring at him and he takes his seat and sits there for the longest time, looking down at the ground.
“Finally, with his hand shading his eyes, Bro looks up at the fire, and the medicine is staring right at him. Eeeeeeeeeeeeee. Medicine said, ‘I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE AND NEVER COME BACK!’ ”
“Bro says, ‘Sorry,’ and the medicine says, ‘IT’S TOO LATE! It’s too late for sorry. Now you must be punished! Sit there. Don’t sing. Don’t pray. Just sit there. And stop bothering me. Don’t ask me for ANYTHING!’ ”
Al is usually beside himself with laughter at the end of this tale, saying, “Bro never came back after that. I been going to peyote ceremony all my life and have never had the medicine speak to me, and brother goes in there ONCE, and peyote talks to him right away.”
Some of it’s true, some of it isn’t, like any good tale, and I’ve got to sit through his telling it time and again, watching people enjoy the joke, and watching Al enjoy telling it.
As for the medicine, it’s good. But it’s not for me. I’ve got my hands full already with a pipe, a drum, and a chainsaw. I don’t need to pick up anything else. And they should let you go and hang out under the stars if you like. You’ve got to sit there for sixteen hours, and man, it’s hard on your back.
Sitting in the dark in sweat lodge the other night between rounds while the dipper was going around, with everybody catching their breath and getting a drink, Mike Red Cloud says, “Jack run peyote meeting last weekend.”
Everybody said, “Aho,” in affirmation.
Jack Red Cloud is young, in his mid-twenties. I don’t know if it was the first meeting he ever ran, but I think it was.
Then Mike says, “He was wearing sunglasses,” and everybody laughed.
“Everybody in there was wearing sunglasses,” he went on. “They should have give me a little notice..a couple days…and I would have been there…could’ve stopped by the gas station and got me some sunglasses.”
Everybody laughed again, and Mike didn’t stop.
“Everybody was wearing sunglasses. Water woman came in the morning…wearing sunglasses.”