They are like nothing you’ve ever seen. If you get a chance to go, you should go. They are spiritual. They are magical. And, the are colorful.
Keep in mind this is a very sacred event. Respect what you see. Respect who you see. And, pay your respects to the person who has just passed.
As you know, for me, the work is the prayer. I pay my respects by making pictures and documenting the scene.
I know enough to not get close to an Indian meeting on the scene — the Indians who have circled to discuss their roles on the street — and who may or may not know each other. And, I know enough not to get into anybody’s faces while I think I am doing my job.
This pictures barely scratch the surface of what happened on this day. A day of celebration of life for Big Chief Tom Sparks Jr.
A word about Big Chief Tom. He started walking in 1947. He was the oldest living Indian before he passed. He was 86 years old. One of the things you may not know about me is that I live by some old Chinese sayings. One of which is, “When somebody dies who is over 80 years old, you laugh.” That’s the literal translation. It really means that you should not mourn for too long. Instead, you should celebrate their life.
The pictures. Nothing new here. F8 and be there. The real technique is what I’ve learned from years on the street. Things like moving in front of people with a smile and a kind word. A building of trust so that the Indians don’t toss you out of the circle. I felt like I succeeded when one of the pallbearers handed me his phone, checked to see if I was still carrying it, giving me a thumbs up and finally taking it from my hand when his job was completed. Smartphones are worth everything on the street. He trusted me to hold it. He is the guy in the blue shirt carrying the casket a couple of pictures down. It’s a little thing. But, it’s a big deal.
And, so it ends. One man going home on a spiritual level. One Baby Doll walking under the interstate on Claiborne going to her earthly home.