Gray Wolf and the Cobalt Necklace

By David Jessup

On the final night of Sylvan Dale Ranch’s Native American Week a few years ago, Gray Wolf presented one of our young guests with a cobalt necklace he had owned for many years.  Gray Wolf is a Northern Cheyenne who hosts a special program each year at our “tipi camp.”  The guest was a sixteen-year-old girl who had spent the week here with her mother.  Several times during the week she had treated her mother with disrespect.  Up at Cow Camp she actually called her mother a B—-.  One of the wranglers picked up on this and asked Gray Wolf if he might talk to the girl. 

At the ranch party presentation, Gray Wolf explained that the necklace had a dark and a light side.  In regular light the beads looked black.  Hold it up to the light and the blue shines through.  It would, he said, remind the girl that she also had a dark and light side.  She looked a little puzzled, but seemed thrilled to receive this special gift, the only one Gray Wolf handed out.

The following day we had Gray Wolf over for dinner.  He told us that after the ranch party was over, he had taken the girl aside and talked to her about the way she had been treating her mother.  He explained that in his culture, disrespect went beyond the individual to whom it was aimed and spread to the whole family and the whole human race, and that it always rebounded on the person being disrespectful.  He reminded her that her mother had given her care and love when she was a helpless baby.  He said that he wanted her to throw one of the cobalt beads away every time she acted disrespectfully, and that if she came back next year with no beads, he would know she hadn’t changed.

The girl is basically a decent kid, and is probably trying to grow into her own identity in a mistaken way.  I’m sure Gray Wolf (and the wrangler) had an impact.  They sort of double teamed her. 

It’s great working with people like this. 

Gray Wolf and Shines have been hosting Native American Week at Sylvan Dale for ten years.  Their program is usually booked up.  To learn more, click here.

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