As the sun turned dark orange and slowly made its short, final approach toward the horizon, the rhythmic beating of a drum could be heard echoing throughout the campground. As the sound drew nearer, you could almost taste the smoke swirling in the air, wafting from torches held by men in Indian headdresses. When the chiefs and each of their tribes approached our campsite, the chants began to match the beat, competing with each other to be heard.
At long last, the procession arrived at our site and the drummer pounded one strong, final beat, sending the crowd into a sharp silence. Then, after a tense pause, the Nation’s Chief shouted, “How-How!” The processional — the Nation — responded with a resounding, “How-How!” Then, silence befell the many fathers and daughters that composed the Indian Princesses.
Indian Guides and Princesses is a group of parents and children from all over the western suburbs, created to foster understanding and companionship between the two ages. Along with a host of events throughout the year, the group also goes on three camping retreats annually. At this particular retreat — the fall weekend camp — fathers and daughters from all over the Western suburbs enjoy a packed Saturday of exciting activities like archery, horseback riding, and crafts.
One of my favorite memories from this fall retreat is resting on a grassy knoll with Abbey, my oldest daughter. After a full morning of fun that included sliding down “the Black Hole” (an underground corrugated pipe) countless times on a plastic sled, Abby had decided that it would be most comfortable to lay directly on top of me while we both stared up at the sky. The back of her head rested comfortably on my chest for over an hour that afternoon as we quietly took in God’s creation and simply slept. It was a treasured moment with my daughter that I’ll never forget.
There were no signs of that sleepy relaxation now, however. Having answered the Chief’s “How-How,” the princesses and their fathers stood with rapt attention as he lifted his torch to light our camp’s torch as a sign that we were invited to join the nation. Soon, our camp’s unique chant joined the others in rhythmical solidarity.
“We are the Blackhawks
, the mighty mighty Blackhawks! Everywhere we go … people want to know!” Though each camp’s chant was different, they flowed together beautifully as the whole nation marched to the Snake Dance.
The Snake Dance is a ceremony that begins with a huge bonfire ignited by the combined torches of the tribal chiefs. The ceremony usually consists of several elements: reciting the dads’ and daughters’ “Friends Forever” creed, the telling of a fabulous nature story, and many “repeat after me” songs led by the camp counselors.
While the Snake Dance is a sacred, meaningful experience, it’s the time afterward that has become the subject of a fair amount of rumors among the mothers and wives back home. I suppose it’s no surprise, given the fact that there is sometimes a sip of something or a peace pipe passed around the fire, that this bonding time has come to be seen by the women as a raucous party fest.
But these rumors are unfounded. While the girls enjoy some ice cream and energetic free playtime, the dads usually fire up the grill for some after-dinner barbecue and fellowship. One of the dads is a skilled smoker of ribs, brisket, and other delectable proteins, while another brings an assortment of meats that he slices with a pocket knife or other (very un-gourmet) utensil. Given the caliber of the food — which is raised each year as the dads strive to share their new talents with the group — a more accurate description of this gathering would be a “fireside foodie fest.”
In the end, the campfire is as much a bonding time for the “braves” as it is for the princesses. It’s a time for fathers, coaches, coworkers and neighbors to come together around the fire and grow their relationships. As the ribs slowly take on the rich, smoky flavor of the fire, so too do old friendships grow richer and new ones get formed. For daughters and fathers alike, the Indian Princesses is a special community, and a campfire is a sacred place.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills
resident; husband; Indian prince; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around Clarendon Hills. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlights a new business, or announces school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting Clarendon Hills residents and even a little about Clarendon Hills history
. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.
Camp Tecumseh – HOW-HOW!
Blackhawk Tribe Fall 2013
The Wall! Abigail
Micah at Indian Guides
Noah at Indian Guides
Micah and his horse
Abbey on her horse!