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Bed & Breakfast and Country Retreat

Guests from Germany

We always enjoy sharing our stories and Western and Native American art with our guests, and we usually learn a great deal in return, because many  share our interest. As we have learned, many of our guests, especially from Germany, are very well read and experts in Western history.  Because of their passion, they are more knowledgeable about the West than some who live here.  This was the case with our 2 guests from Mulheim Germany.

 

Brigeta and Gretchen had traveled to the Barn on route to the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Gretchen was not a stranger to the reservation, as she had been there several times visiting friends, whom she had met in the beginning as business associates.  Gretchen was a translator, and she had translated many books about the Lakota culture into the German language.  The love of the Native American culture is very strong in Germany, and Gretchen was not only a translator, but she also helped to coordinate and host Native American workshops and conferences, where the people of Germany could learn and experience Native American traditions and beliefs.  Her friends on the reservation had reciprocally visited her in Germany to help with some of these conferences.  On this trip Gretchen was serving as tour guide to her friend Brigeta, as it was Brigeta’s first trip to the United States.

 

When Brigeta entered the Barn she was in awe, with it being the first American home she had ever been in, and this was just the first stop for them of a journey that she had been anticipating for years.  She too, was one of the German people, who was captivated by the Native American traditions and culture, and she had been saving her money for 6 years to accompany Gretchen to the West.  Brigeta was an artist and her art was a testimony of her  respect and passion for the Lakota culture.  She shyly admitted that the ideas for her art work came to her through her dreams.  Even she did not understand the deep connection that she had.  Her dark skin, long black hair, and high cheek bones even made her appear more Native American than German.

 

 

Gretchen told us that Brigeta had made a pair of string puppets that were going to be a gift to the children,  when they visited the schools on the reservation.    So of course, our next request was to see them.  Brigeta silently left the room and returned holding a long, narrow cardboard box.  Her fingers carefully unwrapped the string, lifted the lid, and pulled back the white tissue paper.  There inside were the 2 dolls.  Lifting them  tenderly out of the box,  she proudly handed them to me. I had never seen dolls as beautiful and exquisite as these.  They had shiny, long, black braids, that she admitted were made from her own hair.  Beautifully sculptured, painted faces had been crafted by her husband.   They were works of art, with dark skin and eyes, high cheekbones and aquiline noses.  Soft, white, fringed, doeskin dresses were intricately beaded in a traditional  Lakota pattern of greens and reds and black.  The beadwork was designed in rows on the bodice and flowed down the sleeves.  The skirts of the dresses were circled with more beadwork in a geometric pattern.  Doe skin moccasins covered the tiny feet, and they too were completely beaded.  So perfect were these dolls, that as I held them I expected to feel them rise from my hands with a spirit of their own.  I didn’t want to put them back into the box.

 

Owning a bed and breakfast we are always reminded of how small the world really is, as  people are connected closely by experiences and backgrounds.  But the manifestation of this artwork that possessed such a strong intrinsic understanding of Native American culture created by a woman in Germany was profound.  These two visitors from Germany had nurtured such a deep love for a culture that it had transpired time and place.

 

The next morning, after breakfast Brigeta and Gretchen were anxious to visit the Monument.  They had seen art work on our wall by Kevin Burkey of tipi camps at the base of the Monument; they wanted go to that spot.  When we arrived they couldn’t wait until their feet touched the ground and they were able to walk through a sea of prairie grass, just like the pictures they had only seen in books.  They took pictures of the yucca and the cactus.

They stood and just let the breeze blow through their hair and felt the sun on their faces.  There wasn’t much conversation, as they were absorbing the experience to it’s fullest. We followed the path that took us to the top of the Monument in silence, stopping often to take more pictures of the landscape, the prairie flowers, and the sharp contrast of the Bluff against an azure sky.  Arriving on top and walking the path through the cedars and pines they were captivated by the silhouettes of Chimney and Court House Rock to the east, and the faint shadow of Laramie Peak to the west. The wide expanse of prairie, endless blue sky, wind in the pines, and just the quiet solitude were rare treasures to experience for these two travelers from Germany.

 

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