Coming Back To My Life
My name is Peter Bigstone. I’m a full-blood Assiniboin from Stoutness, Saskatchewan.
My grandfather got shot as a little boy. His mother fell on top of him to guard him when he got shot on the buttocks. He got shot and my grandmother fell on top of him and they shot her. They shot him and he was underneath my grandma. I don’t know how but shot his finger right off. That’s why Nabeksi, Nabemoksabe, you know. Nabemoksabe he got shot, blasted right off his little pinky finger.
When he was a young man he was a very spiritual man because he was a lodge-keeper. A lodge-keeper that he made sun dances when he came back and he held ceremonies. He was a healer. He used a hand in the power of prayer in his native language, Assiniboine.
Grandfather taught me a lot of songs. They’re songs that are passed on to me so I can pass them down to other people.
I lived with my grandfather since I was seven years old. Seven years old and I started to learn how to ride horseback, look after myself, and hunt. He taught me how to hunt, eh? Taught me how to hunt and he taught me how to make a bow. He taught me how to shoot a bow and all those things about animals and their ways, and character, physical values in everyday living with the animal kingdom. He taught me a lot of that and I learned. I’ve learned a lot of things to live with nature. I’ve learned lots of things about the medicinal values of plants. I’ve learned lots of that. I’ve learned how to hunt. I’ve learned how to manage my life in a spiritual way and emotional way. You know to take care of myself in those four ways, you know. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically and mentally.
A lot of stories that come to mind are about how my grandfather lived in the old ways. He was one of the ones that I looked up to after my mom and dad parted ways. Grandfather used to say, “My grandson, don’t worry because they’ll get back together.” I never thought about it until after my mom and dad went their ways for thirty years. They got back together. That’s the true prophecy to hear that from an old man that knew it already.
I grew up chopping wood. I grew up around horses to go and get some wood. I grew up like that. I hunted for my dinner. I snared rabbits. I went fishing. I went and ringed ducks necks you know. Used a little dog to go and track to make them go in the weeds. When I make them go in the weeds my dog will sniff them out. He’ll go and grab them and put them in his mouth. I take it from him and if I hear a duck squawking, quacking away someplace, I know he’s got a hold of a duck. So I go running over there and I go pick up that duck.
I drowned gophers to eat and I snared partridges. I ate lots of wild turnips. I ate lots of wild onions. I ate a lot of bulrushes, bulrushes soup, chokecherries, and raspberries.
I miss those days. Skating on the pond. skating around the evenings. Big bonfire on the side
I always remember Grandfather. He pushed me into my manhood and he taught me the values in life.
I was given a pipe when I was nine years old I feel I wasn’t worthy of it when I was young, but a little older. When I turned into a man, I couldn’t, hang on to it. I started being wild after my grandfather passed away. It took a few years of my life, going to jail and trying to straighten out. Twenty years ago I started my life back on that same road that I had left before I started being drinking. When I came back to my life, I’ve been on it full force now.
He taught me, all the songs that had a meaning in life. I’ve learned lots of honor songs. I’ve learned lots of sundance songs. I’ve learned lots of Gasnoha songs and ceremonial songs. I’ve learned how to beat the drum at a certain pace. Those things mean a lot to me, the prayer songs.
My grandfather said, “That’s where you help people the most, is when you sing that in the lodge. ”
Peter Bigstone, HOKSHINA WASTE (good boy) is a full-blooded Assiniboine from the Ocean Man Reservation in Stoughton, Saskatchewan. Canada. Another name that was given to him at birth. Which is, WIYAGA YAMNI, (Three Feathers). Born and raised at the White Bear reservation. He grew up with his grandfather, Dick Nahbexie, GIYA DOBA HOKSHINA (Flying Four Boys) who taught him to share, teach and love the culture, spirituality, and language of his people. He is now one of about ten other people on Ocean man, who can fluently speak the Assiniboine (Nakoda) language. English is his second language. He is married by the old customary style/way of the Nakoda culture. Both he and his wife (Renita) reside in Harlem, Montana, and have five sons and four daughters. Five granddaughters and one grandson. (Many adopted children /grandchildren). Whom he had been teaching their tribal language and culture, like the grandfathers before him.
Peter Bigstone, being of Assiniboine descendency, Chief Jimmy Bigstone was the grandfather of Peter’s mother. He was the last hereditary chief of the White Bear Reservation and also to mention Peter’s mother’s great Grandfather, Chief Pheasant Rump (SHIYO-NEE-DAY) was the last hereditary chief of the Pheasant Rump Reservation. On Peter’s Father’s side the last hereditary, Chief Ocean Man, (MNI-WAN-JA TANGA-WICHA) was his grandfather’s uncle.
He is the last male who can claim of having three chiefs from three different reservations on his lineage of descendency. Peter has been teaching his children to be proud of whom they are and to thank the Creator for the good life He has given us.
Peter is a song carrier and is a member of the Moose Mountain Nakoda Singers, who were nominated for the Canadian Aboriginal Award and for Best Traditional Music in the historical category. Three volumes of their songs were recorded by Sunshine Records in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Teaching is another talent Peter enjoys. He possesses a class 7 Teaching license. For teaching the Nakoda language (Assiniboine). He teaches powwow songs, round (Gahomni) dance songs, honor songs, prayer songs, and Sundance songs. He has been called to sing all over the country. He was also in a movie, a film entitled “Assiniboine Chief Rosebud Remembers Lewis and Clark,” in the fall of 2003.
Peter is also a storyteller. He shares Inktome legends. Peter can relate ceremonies of the Assiniboine. Among them are a feast of the dead, wake, memorial feast, moccasin/hand games, medicine lodge, quarterly singings, fasting, sweat lodge, reclamation of the spirit, healing, spirit calling, pipe ceremonies, naming, give away, taking the medicine, feeding the night spirits, feeding the little people, and first hunting/first kill. He tells one story of how smallpox wiped out all the Assiniboines in four reserves in the area he comes from. He is a whip man and whistle man at powwows and a stickman for the round dance. He has been a pipe carrier since the age of nine and now carries four pipes. He is also ahead ladled man at ceremonial feeds, Sweat lodge-keeper, and Sundance lodge-keeper (Assiniboine medicine lodge).
Preserving and teaching the Assiniboine language and culture to the young are top priorities with Peter. Peter doesn’t want this way of life lost. He is comfortable presenting to any kind of group in any kind of atmosphere. He especially likes children to experience native culture. Singing and playing games is his way to teach people that life is too short and to have fun.
RR 1 Box 70
Harlem, MT 59526
406 353-4926 (home)