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Tuxedos and Peacepipes

July 7, 2010 - Karin Elton

My daughters and I hurried to get ready for a 4 p.m. wedding Saturday. “I’m leaving without you,” I said. “I’m in the car.”

We finally were ready although one of my daughters’ hair wasn’t quite how she wanted it. My husband and one of my sons had taken another car and picked up his mother.

I drove down Highway 23 toward Granite Falls and turned right on 67. Then I really didn’t know where to go. Thank goodness I spotted my husband’s car so I followed him to the bride’s sister’s house in the Upper Sioux Reservation.

The setting was beautiful. Trees surrounded a tent where chairs had been set up facing a decorated trellis. The trellis was hung with turquoise and white streamers. I had forgotten her colors were turquoise and white and by happenstance was wearing a turquoise necklace so it looked intentional. Yes!

When we got there, the groom, Lance, was walking casually around in shorts and a T-shirt as was the bride, Crystal. OK...

At 5:15 p.m. the wedding started. The groom was wearing a white tuxedo with turquoise accessories. The 6-year-old ringbearer, Crystal’s son, Thunder, wore a mini-tux. A drum circle played as the groom danced down the white papered path to his bride.

And Crystal looked beautiful. She was dressed in a white beaded dress that her sister had made.

The wedding ceremony was in the traditional style. Sage was scattered underneath the couple’s unshod feet. The ceremony was performed by Crystal’s stepdad who teaches American Indian Studies in Mankato. He talked about the importance of the peacepipe to Indian culture. He said it wasn’t until 1978 when American Indians were officially given the right to practice their religion.

After the ceremony — and after hugs and photos — the bride and groom, my two daughters and I walked up a path through some woods and there was Prairie’s Edge Casino. We crossed the parking lot and Crystal told us the casino was expanding and parts were under construction.

A band was playing as part of Independence Day activities. (Kind of ironic that an American Indian casino would celebrate the start of their culture’s downfall...) During the break between songs the lead singer spotted the wedding couple to the side and said, “Someone’s going to get lucky tonight.” A guitarist, who didn’t see us, said, “Who? The drummer?”

We walked through the audience to the front part of the casino. The guard wouldn’t let us go in past the lobby because Crystal had bare feet.

So we walked through the construction zone back down the hill to the reception.

It was an unusual day with a lot of mixing of cultures (my daughter said I was the whitest cracker there) and modern times with olden times.


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