November 22, 2006

After 270 Years Queen Buries Hatchet, Receives Pipe From Mohegans

The Queen was also presented with a peace pipe by tribal spiritual leader Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum

Just imagine for yourself the image of the Queen taking a puff from the pipe. Here's the historical background for the odd exchange:
It had taken almost 300 years but yesterday the Queen helped the leaders of the Mohegans finally accomplish a mission begun by a tribal chief in the reign of King George II.

In the incongruous setting of London's Southwark Cathedral, she received a native American peace pipe and, more significantly, a copy of the petition Mahomet Weyonomon had tried, but failed, to hand personally to the king in 1736.

. . .

Mahomet left Connecticut to plead for royal help in protecting his hunting grounds but died from smallpox in his City of London lodgings. He was buried in the cathedral's grounds, where he was to lie in obscurity for 270 years.

Yesterday, after a request from the tribe which now numbers 1,700, the Queen attended a Mohegan funeral blessing and unveiled a memorial, carved from a granite boulder from the tribe's reservation to commemorate the life he gave for his people.

As trains rumbled on the bridge overhead, Bruce Two Dogs Bozsum, the ceremonial pipe-carrier and tribal chairman, and two other tribe members, blessed the memorial with the traditional "smudge", the burning of sage and sweet grass and offering of tobacco to Mother Earth to summon good spirits. Turkey-feather and wolf-head headdresses are not normally spotted at midday service, nor smoking allowed.

But the Queen watched good-humouredly as Chief Two Dogs lit the pipe and turned it to each of the four compass points – north for medicine, south for ancestors, east for new beginnings and west for "where all things end".

The small red stone pipe presented to the Queen was decorated with 300-year-old eagle feathers taken from Mahomet's headdress.

She was free, said Chief Two Dogs later, to use the pipe as she wished.

"It's her pipe. She could smoke it in a ceremony," he suggested, conjuring up an unlikely image. "When you smoke it, as the smoke goes through your lungs, you look to the sky and say your prayers to your creators."
Here's a copy of the announcement of Mahomet's death in London in 1736:



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