The Afraid of Hawk family welcomed home their lost grandfather in Manderson, SD this weekend.
Afraid of Hawk had been a “rough rider” with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Exhibition, which passed through Danbury, CT in 1900. He lay buried in an unmarked grave at Wooster Cemetery in Danbury until his burial card was found by Robert Young, who worked there at the time.
Young spent several years putting all of the pieces together before he went out to South Dakota to explain his discovery to the Afraid of Hawk family. It took three years for the family to be able to come to Danbury to sit graveside as Albert’s remains were exhumed. On Saturday, his remains were brought to the Wounded Knee School in Manderson, SD, wrapped in a traditional buffalo robe, as he would have been a century ago.
The Afraid of Hawk family was careful to see that traditional details were adhered to, and Albert finally had the funeral he would have had in those times.
He was brought into the gymnasium on a palette, where Rick Two Dogs performed the ceremony, most of which was spoken in the Lakota language. Later, Two Dogs said that these ceremonies brought closure to Albert and to his family.
Wilma Thin Elk, of Pine Ridge, went through the genealogy to show the family’s names from before and after Albert’s time. White Plume mentioned Albert would have been a young boy at the time of Wounded Knee, which was only a few miles from Manderson. “He is our lost elder,” he said.
On Sunday, the tiospaye gathered again for the funeral. Foods had been prepared and brought for Albert. The Sitanka Wokiksuye Riders of 1986 drummed and sang. In his talk, White Plume said that Daniel Afraid of Hawk, 82, and great-grandson of Albert’s parents, was one of the original riders.
The Sitanka Wokiksuye, including Tyson White Plume, Chuck Camp, Nick Piper, and Asa No Bread carried the palette out of the gymnasium to be driven to the cemetery. There, Albert was placed on a scaffold for several hours, until the sun went down.
The family gathered at the cemetery where Albert would be buried behind his father, who was the original Afraid of Hawk before first names were given. The monument at his grave read that he had left this world in 1914.
Afterwards, the many relatives returned for a feed and a give-away.