Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: In Writing A Tribute Writer Shares His Own Destiny...

After Harry Jack's stroke, he asked his "nephew" Manny to pour the water in the sweat lodge

The Elder: 
A Tribute

By Monolin "Manny" Moreno

I was honored to have had the opportunity to read The Elder by Monolin Moreno with Lillian Vallee, a renowned literary professor and translator, providing the Introduction. How many of us show the love we have for another through the creation of a statement of memoriam to that individual (and other elders)?

Indeed, The Elder is so much more than that, for in showing his love and respect for the elders in this book, Manny Moreno has also shown us an important part of his life and the lives and rich culture of his people. I have read many fictional books that are based upon our Native Americans Indian culture and learned much, but none of them have given me the opportunity to love their characters as I did in Manny's book. For it is these individuals who have and are still trying to retain the ceremonial and prayer heritage that was once so much a part of their lives. I am grateful for that experience!

The Elder begins as the funeral is conducted for Harry Jack and Manny comes and says a prayer to Grandfather to receive Harry Jack's spirit. But soon, Manny is enclosed within a blanket. Harry had sponsored Manny and he would be received today into the Black Wolf Gourd Clan and participate as part of that clan as honor is given to Harry Jack. It is as they dance and wept that Harry began to look back as to how and when Manny and Harry had crossed paths.

It had been in the 1980's at a powwow, when there was a dance contest. All of the young were dressed in full ceremonial garb except Harry came with just one feather. As if ordained, Harry won the contest, dancing as he had always danced so many years before... At that event, Manny stumbled literally into Harry and though he immediately apologized. Harry scolded him. This was to be the relationship that seemed to occur over and over for many years, though Manny continued to treat his elder with the respect due.

Manny begins to tell his own story at this point, sharing that his life was essentially one long drunk until one night at an AA meeting he met Chili Willie Burns and Beaver. They encouraged him to go to the Three Rivers Indian Lodge, an alcohol and substance recovery center for Native Americans. Harry Jack was there...

And Manny was for the first time to enter the sweat lodge. While Harry talked about Indian ways, about sobriety, Manny began to feel good and at peace. But then it got hotter and hotter; that first time Manny ran out of the lodge. Harry called him crazy. Beaver came to help him back to his place.

But Manny came back to the Lodge and he stayed...

Both Harry Jack and Manny were stubborn men and they had many "run-ins" over the next decades. However, slowly the love and respect were what held them together until Harry Jack, when he had a stroke, chose Manny as his "nephew" to pour the water for him...

Manny and I are in the same situation now. We are now "the elders" of our respective families. One of the main issues that you cannot fail to miss in Manny's book, is the need to consider and reconsider the treatment of our older family members. As Lillian Vallee states, "his book is a plea for the reintegration of elders into the fabric of our culture." Now, Manny is the elder and he is called upon to give the prayers, to pour the water, to pray over a new-born... He does this while working as a laborer and living with others as possible...

Manny Moreno has his manuscript totally prepared and ready to be published. He is looking for a publisher and I believe The Elder must be placed on the shelves of many. To this end, this reviewer is committing $500 to help with the costs to publish this book. Will YOU help? I am sure Manny will share more about his book with you. Pain of Forgiving is also in manuscript ready for publishing.

The Bridge is Gone was Manny's first book and is available at Amazon or Back40 Publishing (click on article title to go there).

1 comment:

  1. Good reading,brings back memories of Harry Jack,i got scolded by him also,but,sometimes a scolding wakes you up especially when scolded by a man of his status,its actually an Honor.