Owen Fairgrounds Blessed In Honor Of Those Who Gave All
Deemed sacred once the location was selected to house “The Moving Wall,” a portion of the Owen County Fairgrounds was formally blessed by way of a Native American smudging ceremony held early Thursday morning before the first panel was put into place.
Geno Race, a United States Navy veteran and member of the Lakota tribe, burnt a metal canister full of white and South Dakota sage, constantly fanning the smoke with a large eagle feather, ensuring the smoke touched each flag, flower and person on the grounds to cleanse the area of any bad feelings, energy, spirits or negativity.
“This is a Native American culture I do, the Lakota people, which is open to all tribes,” Race explained.
A volunteer at the Wolf Creek Habitat in Brookville, Race says he and others perform Native American ceremonies for funerals, weddings and events such as Veterans Day.
“It was a great trip for the kids; we stayed overnight and interacted with the wolves,” 4-H Fishing Team Leader Kathy Newman-Arthur explained. “I asked the lady if she knew a Native American who had also served during Vietnam, and she said ‘yes,’ that he also volunteers there.”
Race served in the U.S. Navy from 1967-1968 and says the sacred smudging ceremony is his way of giving back from his heart.
“This is sacred today, this is a ceremony for all of our past veterans and all who are here today,” Race noted. “So I come out and sing songs. When I’m out there, I’m praying for the four directions to the Creator, thanking Him for allowing us to come here and do this to honor our veterans.”
To close the ceremony, Race played a personal melody on a Native American flute entitled, “From Me To You.”
“The song comes from my heart, there are no words, it’s just a song that grandfather gifted me with, so I play it. I honor my brother, Dwight Race, he was a veteran also,” he explained. “I have two POW brothers who have passed on, I honor them and all the people here.”
Newman-Arthur noted that Race came to Spencer two weeks ago to visit the fairgrounds in preparation for the ceremony.
“He was very honored that we took the time to find a Native American to do the blessing,” she said. “I’ve looked into the history of Native Americans serving in Vietnam and was amazed... it’s not exactly in the history books, so to speak,” she said. “We really appreciate that he came to do the ceremony.”
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