Today I visited the Tsuutʼina Nation Cemetery with community member Regena Crowchild.
Here’s what I saw:
Regena kindly shared stories and explanations with me for half an hour.
When I asked her to tell me about any distinctive funeral customs the Nation has, she told me:
“Whether for traditional or Christian funerals, they bring a horse with no rider and just a blanket over it and the horse leads us here to the cemetery. We have wakes and the people sing the deceased in and they sing them out. Finally, they sing the Going Home song, the song about going home to our Creator. Others ride on horseback behind the horse with no rider. Then the procession is further followed with vehicles. The horse with no rider symbolizes the person who has gone and who goes before us.”
Regena also explained some of the inscriptions to me– one of which said, “Keep on going to the spirit world.”
It was a great experience to visit this cemetery, to contemplate the particularity of the diversity of graves, and to pray for the dead.
It often seems to me that we realize the true value of things by no other means than by practicing valuing them.