What'll it be? Groundhog or Buffalo?
at this year's Cowboy Poetry Gathering!
Crow Indian Henry Real Bird donated
buffalo from the tribe's land for a
barbecue. I tasted it. Tender,
good flavor. A couple hundred people
tried it, along with roll, potato salad,
and drink, Saturday in front of the
Convention Center--no charge. The
American Indian answer to a Mongolian
meal the year before.
Let me explain.
Last year Mongolian horsemen were
guests at the Gathering. They sang
poetry, played two-stringed guitars
wearing newly purchased cowboy hats,
and were shocked at the size of our
horses (see Blog entry for Dec 14)
They had a great time, and we loved
their culture. Early in the week
they assembled one of their round,
felt-tent homes, a ger,
on the lawn in fron of the
Convention Center, and on Saturday
they demonstrated traditional
Mongolian cuisine, boodog.
Mongolian Tseye built a small fire on
the ground in front of the ger,
and wrapped a western rockchuck before
burying it in hot coals. After he
pronounced it "done," we tasted it!
Many said it tasted pretty good,
although sensibilities kept some from
even trying it. (Others said it tasted
So, this year, not to be outdone, "Hank"
Real Bird offered an Indian traditional
meal to the crowd.
Buffalo roam on Hank's home on the
reservation in Montana where he lives.
He considers the Little and Big Horn
Valleys his living room.
He's supported the Poetry Gathering from
its early days, with his other-wordly
poetry that twists language like a river.
He brings a unique perspective to the
Gathering, and this year he brought a
buffalo, too. He convinced his tribe to
donate for the "white people."
After welcoming the crowd under a
warm winter sun, "Hank" offered thanks,
using his Crow language. The lilting,
pulsating rhythm of his prayer rose
and fell like a river current, echoing
an ancient heart beat.
The Great Give-Away: Mongolians and
Indians giving away part of
themselves to us white folk.