Stand Up People, A Chief is Coming
I met Ozzie 30 plus years ago at where else, a recovery meeting. He was in his glory regaling everyone who would listen with is recovery wisdom and humorous stories. The real love of Ozzie’s life was recovery meetings, recovery Roundups and most importantly Sobriety Campouts.
Ozzie was born into a strong Blackfeet family, he traced his family back many generations and was able to share that knowledge with his family. He held his family in the highest regard, especially his parents and was always in awe that they raised a large family back when poverty was a way of life. He loves his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Throughout his lifetime Ozzie had many accomplishments-too numerous to mention. We all know he put his life on the line for all of us by serving in the Armed Services, in fact he was wounded in the line of duty. He never shared that with many people, only other Veterans and his sons – it was private to him and he said it was too painful to talk about. He said he was just doing his duty.
But I believe one of the movements he was most proud of was being one of the founders of the Intertribal Sobriety Campout held here in Montana. He and his close friend Jim Pipe had a dream to have sobriety campouts on every reservation in Montana. So word went out on the Moccasin Grapevine about a planning meeting to be held in Billings – in a packed room at that meeting he and Jim outlined their dream to carry the sobriety message to our Native people. Their dream became reality and the first campout was held with the Cheyenne Nation and on each reservation in the following years. Overtime Ozzie became the Elder statesman of the Sobriety movement, especially within the Native communities. It didn’t stop there though, he went where he was called. When he visited his daughter Fawn at Fort Belknap, part of his visit was to take a meeting to his Hutterrite friends in Turner, Montana. One time a few years ago, I was traveling with my family to Florida. We stopped at a rest stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere. My car had Montana plates and this man came over and asked where in Montana were we from and of course he mentioned that he knew a man from Montana, a Blackfeet man he said, ‘Helped sober me up, in fact he is my sponsor in recovery’. Of course he was talking about Ozzie! I pointed to Fawn and told him this is his daughter. He said ‘She must be Fawn, he talks about her all the time’. I laughed and said ‘Yes, this is definitely his daughter, she holds recovery meetings with her Barbie dolls’.
In the native culture each brave deed earns the Sacred Eagle Feather – 36 feathers is the number worn by a chief. Ozzie is certainly in that circle with the great Chiefs of the past four generations and has honorably earned all 36 Eagle Feathers for his War Bonnet. When the Feathers reach the ground that is the highest honor. The honor is that the War Bonnet Trail signifies the honor of the people. The feather with red paint signifies of warrior wounded in battle. Ozzie has this Red Feather. THIS MAN IS A LEGEND!!
I could go on and on but I want to tell my friend that his legacy will remain uniquely his in the Native World. There is a saying – when smudge is lit and prayers are offered, the smudge continues without end and blesses all mankind. That is how I see my friend and the people he has helped on the Red Road of Sobriety.
So as he makes his journey through life I say, ‘STAND UP PEOPLE, A CHIEF IS COMING!’
When it is time for you to take that journey to the Spirit World I will sing a victory song in my heart and dance a victory dance for Ozzie, he has counted coup on alcohol and addiction.
Tie on your beaded moccasins and proudly place the 36 Eagle Feather War Bonnet on your head and dance that victory dance across the Milky Way into the great camp in the sky. Again I will say, ‘Stand up, a chief is coming, stand up people’.
SOAR HIGH OZZIE, your 51 years of continued sobriety rightfully bestows on your right to carry ‘51’ feathers on your coup stick. The tracks on Mother Earth uniquely reflect your awesome ability to help others become ‘Happy, joyous and free’. Each time I see an eagle soaring across the Heavens I know it is you watching over us.
THIS MAN IS A LEGEND! BLRSSINGS TO LONEWOLF!!
-Jill P. (8/17/2018)