Thursday, July 7, 2011

Buffalo Nations World Ambassadors Exhibition, Buffalo Nations Museum, Banff, Alberta
Friday 24 June, 2011

Celebrating 50 years of a trip for peace exhibition

In 1934 Walking Buffalo (Tatanga Mani) made Frank Buchman, the initiator of Moral Rearmament (MRA), now called Initiatives of Change (IofC), a Blood Brother of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, and gave him the name A-Wo-Zan-Zan-Tonga (Great Light Out of Darkness). 

a bust of Walking Buffalo with his photo behindIn 1958, Walking Buffalo attended Frank Buchman's 80th birthday on Mackinac Island in Michigan. There Frank Buchman gave a challenge to Walking Buffalo and some of Chief David Crowchild's family from the Tsuu T'ina Nation, to take their vision of 'building unity between nations by change in the hearts of men' to the world. Walking Buffalo later said, 'It was at this conference that I put away all my bitterness, pride and fear and took up the work of my blood brother Frank Buchman.'

MC Roy Louis, Chair of the Buffalo Nations Luxton MuseumIn 1960 Tatanga Mani and members of the Stoney Nakoda Nation along with Tsuu T'ina nation Chief David Crowchild and members of his family travelled 44,000 miles visiting four continents. The Crowchild name is now well known in the city of Calgary,

The historic opening and celebration of the permanent photo exhibition of Walking Buffalo's 1959-60 World Journey took place at the Buffalo Nations Museum in Banff on Friday, 24 June, 2011. MC of the event was Roy Louis, a Cree from Hobbema and Chair of 'Buffalo Nations'. Close to 50 people came from throughout Alberta and British Columbia to participate in a pipe ceremony, to view photographs of the journey and to listen to stories from some of those who took part in the journey.

Jack Freebury and Bill McLeanWalking Buffalo's son, Bill McLean, now 91 years young himself, was accompanied by his grand-daughter and a great grandson. Elder McLean spoke of the need to find direction for life from the four standards of absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love, and of losing his bitterness toward his white roommate after an honest Bill McLean's grand-daughter Labelle and great grandsondiscussion and apology. The room mate, Jack Freebury, also spoke briefly of that honest conversation and what a turning point it was for him also as he recognized his indifference.

A few weeks earlier a preview of the exhibition was on display in Kingston, Ontario, the hometown of the photo journalist, Bob Fleming.

In her article in the Kingston Whig Standard of 21 May, 2011, Kamille Parkinson says, 'It is this 1960 journey that was documented by Bob Fleming, international photo journalist, who accompanied Chief Walking Buffalo on the four-month trip. The purpose of the world tour was 'to promote peace and understanding among First Nations peoples and between First Nations and all people,' and the photographs you will see at the exhibition are, quite simply, amazing.

Benoit Charlebois & his wife Anna Maria talking with Bob Fleming'The colour and black and white photographs were developed by Camera Kingston using Fleming's original negatives, but on a very large scale. Were the images themselves not already imposing, the size of the prints would make them monumental. And the quality of the original film negatives is such that there is a clarity and crispness to the prints that is hard to come by these days, even with very high resolution digital images. The colours, so I am told, are also true to the original photographs, faithfully reproduced from the film negatives. As such, the images are patently of their time – there's just no mistaking that chromatic effect – though the images themselves seem to transcend their date of creation.'

John Hopcraft and his daughter Lynn, singing 'TaTanga Mani'One of the gifts for the opening in Banff was the presence of John Hopcraft and his daughter Lynn. John was helping to care for Frank Buchman when Walking Buffalo was given his challenge, and he wrote a song for him. Later, when a film was made of the World Journey, it was made the theme song for it. At the opening celebrations, he and Lynn had everyone singing it. Then they sang another of John's original songs inspired by Walking Buffalo's comments that he had gone to 'Nature's University' and learned from the world around him. Listening to the two songs one sensed emotion and tears flowing. They provided a warm connection to the genuine spirit of the World Journey.

Down Along the River

‘Trees along the river,
Their branches open wide,
Live in peace together,
Growing side by side’.

Tatanga Mani
(Theme song for the World Journey)

‘The buffalo’s a warrior,
He glories in a fight.
So warriors from ev’ry land stand up for what is right.
He brings a ringing answer,
A sense of human worth,
Of brotherhood and purpose
To the corners of God’s earth.’
Tatanga Mani leads the way,
From the valley of the Bow,
A man of fire and firm belief,
This great Nakoda Indian Chief, Walking Buffalo, ...

Henry Holloway sharing his memories of the journeyHenry Holloway, only 17 at the time, was asked to accompany his great-grandfather, Walking Buffalo, on his World Journey. He retraced the tour for us from country to country. His memories of the grand welcomes his great-grandfather received in every country, whether it was New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Kenya, or Switzerland, impressed upon him as a young lad, the important work being done. He stressed the importance of listening to Walking Buffalo throughout the journey and the power this Elder had to inspire those who heard his message of peace and unity in the world. Henry ended by saying that the experience was a time of extremely important learning and education that has stayed with him through his life.

Henry & Kathleen Holloway'Canada is a nation of rivers,' said Peter J Poole, a board member of the Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation, 'and a river of nations.' Echoing lyrics of the earlier song (Down Along the River – see above) his words painted a picture of our communities strong like trees linking along the banks of the river. He hoped that 'we can bring to each of our watersheds some of the fire and firm belief that we have heard today; and that we can bring home some of the wisdom, the threads of peace that come down to us, and can pass on those threads of peace to our children.” 

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