I posted this song a long, long time ago, so if you missed it the first time, do yourself a favor and listen. If you’ve already heard it, listen again and then buy the rest of the album here. I could try to explain who Gerald Primeaux, Sr. is or what his harmonized Native American Church music sounds like, but I’m sure I’d get it all wrong. Instead, read the wonderful information on his page at Turtle Island Storytellers Network, an American Indian online speakers bureau that promotes 80 tribal storytellers, historians and song carriers. The network, funded by the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, National Park Service and the National Endowment for the Arts, was developed to provide speaking and consulting opportunities for tribal elders, oral historians, storytellers and song carriers from 13 states in the Northwest and Northern Plains states:
Gerald Primeaux Senior, I am a Huntawa Lakota from the Yankton Sioux Reservation. My name is Chactawa which means Twin Eagle Boy. I was born in 1963 on the Yankton, South Dakota, my dad was Asa Primeaux Senior. His dad, my grampa, was Harry Primeaux Senior. My great grandfather was Mitchell Primeaux and his dad was Ed Primeaux, that was on my dad’s side. My mom’s side, we come from the Rainbow Tiyospaye, Rainbow side. My mom was Loretta Charity Rainbow and her dad Harry Rainbow and then his dad was a medicine man just went by the name of Rainbow in our, among our people, that’s where we come from. They call us the Yankton Sioux, the land of the friendly people, you know, that’s where I’m from, that’s where I come from.
We grew up watching our Elders, like my father and my grandfather, and the way they expressed themselves through songs, through this Native American Church style, through going into the sweat lodge, through the dance arbors, to pow wow and then sun dance. I feel like a very fortunate person to be able to carry on something that they did before me and when I had no understanding of it but I think throughout the years, understanding comes with the knowledge and the know how. And then now feeling that, being strong in that, through song, through words, through our language, putting it through music, trying to learn like that the way they taught us.
My grandfather always told me, Harry Primeaux, “When you do something, you’re going to sing, grandson,” he said, “listen.” He said, “Sing it right. Know what you’re singing about.”
So through there now, I’m at the position to where, through the language and through my prayers, I put them through song. You know, to try to remember the prayers like when we’re singing, that’s what it’s about. It’s about keeping the Mother Earth turning
The old people said it made the blind see, it healed the broken bones. You know, the story goes, it came to the Indian people through they say the trail of tears, you know, the trail of the tears the white man was putting us on reservations and they were saying we couldn’t pray this way, we couldn’t talk this way or we couldn’t, they were saying that to us and a woman fell behind when she was trying to keep up with her people and she fell over, ready to just give herself up and die, you know.
So maybe through that life she was carrying, a plant was saying, talking to her, telling her, “Why don’t you eat me? Eat me and you will be well. So this lady ate this medicine. She was able to get a little bit of strength so she could sit up again and she gathered all what she can around her and she stayed there for about a week eating medicine. She was able to get her strength back. She was nourished. So she walked forward and she caught up with her people.
She kind of shared with the medicine man what she, what she found on the ground and how it talked to her, how it had some kind of life into it. So they ate it.
But that’s how it came to us, as a medicine and now its spread out all over the place and, it has similar ways, it all has similar ways. You go into pray, you go into eat medicine, you go in there to get healed, maybe encourage to where they stay all night and they pray all night to where by the time that sun comes up there is a way of greeting that sun. Greeting the new day to go forward, you know, that was how the understanding that was taught into me.