RONDE - As a youngster, Grand Ronde tribal member Jim Holmes remembers
being read to from a book shaped like a rabbit.
title escapes him. Maybe it was "Peter Cottontail."
he always was asking his parents to read to him.
wanted us to continually read to him," said Jim's father, Merle.
"About the time he was starting to talk, we started calling
name stuck through Jim's childhood and into adulthood.
father is a descendant of Chief Joseph Shangretta, a well-known
medicine man in Grand Ronde before the turn of the century.
been a member of the Medicine Society for about 12 years,"
Merle said. "Someone said I should give my son the formal name
name was researched, and it was determined Rabbit was pronounced
Il-la-lik in the Warm Springs tribal dialect and Wa-la-lik in Wasco
I told him I was going to give him his name, the Medicine Society
supported me," Merle said.
during a Saturday ceremony that began about 12:30 p.m. with a traditional
Native American dinner of elk, venison, salmon, dried corn, roots
and berries, and lasted until early Sunday morning with medicine
dancing and singing, Jim was given the name Rabbit in both tribal
sought the assistance of Warm Springs Chief Nelson Wallulatum and
two Warm Springs medicine men. They traveled to Grand Ronde to lend
Jim was filled with emotion.
how many people even know an Indian chief," he said. "I
was given a name by one. It's a pretty big honor for me. It's a
a spiritual type of thing. There's a lot of personal fulfillment,
and I'm excited for the community."
Kimsey, the oldest living Grand Ronde Tribal elder at 95, said she
doesn't remember a naming ceremony ever taking place in her lifetime.
Her son, Marvin, took part and said he was honored to do so.
Americans from as far away as Idaho traveled to Grand Ronde.
Edson from Boise was there. Merle said Edson is a friend of the
Holmes family, members of which attended his wedding.
part of the day that stood out was the gift-giving. Throughout the
naming ceremony, a select group of people came forward and received
a treasured gift from Merle.
he looked on, his son, whose arms were spread wide, was draped with
colorful blankets and shawls.
stepped forward to receive them. They were given by Merle in honor
of his son receiving his Indian name.
has been gathering items for months," said Brent Merrill, editor
of the tribal newspaper, Smoke Signals. "There's a room in
his house stuffed with things. In our culture, wealth and stature
are measured by what you give to others, and what you do for other
gift-giving culminated with Jim Holmes removing first his shirt
and then his moccasins, and handing them over to friends.
every individual who received a gift, the moment was packed with
emotion and importance.
received a ribbon shirt made by his grandmother. He slipped it on
after receiving it and wore it proudly the rest of the day.
the ceremony, Merle Holmes was telling Merrill how good he looked
in it, and how it should be warn to events like powwows, perhaps
even to a funeral.
is a huge deal for me," Merrill said. "She makes beautiful
ribbon shirts and I've always wanted one."
of medicine dancing and singing concluded the ceremony, and Merle
Holmes said the activity was certain to lift his spirits and leave
him with a good feeling about life.
love the old songs," Merle said. "They are as old as time
itself. In my own family, my great-grandfather was an Indian doctor
and a chief, so it means a lot to me to see this happen.
he died, and when his generation died out, we lost all of that old
knowledge that is important to me. It's something that is important
to me, something I believe in."