Column: Gathering honors Indian elders in Denver
"The party is scheduled to start promptly at 5 p.m., which, given past history and cultural cliches, I figure means sometime after 5:30. But by the time I arrive, the Church of All Saints parish hall parking lot is jammed.

"You must be on Indian time," Geri Reyna calls out to me. Next to her, Ida and Logan Bear — the former, Winnebago, the latter, Ponca — crack up.

And so I am welcomed to the best Christmas party in town, the annual honoring of this city's American Indian elders.

I could have sworn it was just last December that Santa came into the hall wearing a chief's headdress and announcing he was late because he ran into difficulty flying over Rosebud, S.D. "I forgot it was hunting season. Lost two reindeer."

But no, Ida reminds me, that was in 2007. Two years ago, the Bears' grandson, Jordan, was on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, and he left again in July for his second. Two years ago, Phyllis Bigpond, the founding executive director of the Denver Indian Family Resource Center, was still with us, and now she's gone, taken by brain cancer earlier this year. Two years ago, Theresa Halsey, the author of the Indian Voices newsletter was still too young to be on the invite list. But here she is, 56 years old and officially introduced as "the youngest elder here.""

Get the Story:
Tina Griego: Elders hailed for role in shared story (The Denver Post 12/17)