Native Sun News: Couple celebrates almost 50 years of marriage

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Joyce, left, and Chris Eagle Hawk celebrate 45 years of marriage during Oglala Lakota College’s Graduation Wacipi June 24 in Kyle. Photo by Karin Eagle.

KYLE, SOUTH DAKOTA –– The concept of marriage varies by tribes.

A consistent theme regarding marriage throughout Indian country is the commitment between two people with the support and encouragement of their tribes and families.

At the recent Oglala Lakota College Graduation Wacipi at Three Mile Creek, the final day was the scene of a celebration of a 45-year marriage between Chris Eagle Hawk, Oglala Lakota, and his wife, Joyce, Taos Pueblo.

Sandra Black Bear, Sicangu Lakota, a longtime dancer and friend of the Eagle Hawk family, stood before the gathering June 24 and spoke from her heart about the important lessons that Eagle Hawk and his wife teach to the young people of their tribes about how to maintain a long-lasting marriage.

“It’s important to recognize the gifts and talents that your partner has,” said Black Bear. “They are good at something, dancing or singing or helping their people in some way. It’s not good to be jealous and try and hold them back or stop them from doing what they are good at. Support them and be proud of them; respect them for who they are and don’t make them choose.”

Several couples who have enjoyed long marriages were invited to dance with the Eagle Hawks, including Robert and Sharon Two Crow, Fred and Janet Stands, and Wade and Maxine Broken Nose.

Younger couples who had made commitments to each other and were on their way to longtime marriages were also included in the ceremony.

After the honor song, which was sung by the Eagle Hawks’ sons and relatives with the Crazy Horse Singers, Chris Eagle Hawk, nationally known powwow announcer, addressed the crowd.

“I asked my wife if she wanted to speak, but she told me, ‘I taught you all these words, so now you say them,’” joked Eagle Hawk. “But really, it’s the wife who knows all the things, and the husband who speaks for them.”

“I think the most important thing for a good marriage is to respect each other and communicate with each other. And sacrifice – I had to sacrifice my single life to join with her.”

Joyce Eagle Hawk, while maintaining close ties with her Taos Pueblo family, has become a very integrated part of the Oglala Lakota Tiyospaye. She sings the Lakota songs that her sons and grandsons sing as a wicaglata, teaching younger women to learn how to sing in the process.

She also is a teacher at Isna Wica Owayawa, or Loneman School, in Oglala, having received her teaching degree at Oglala Lakota College.

The Eagle Hawks’ sons and daughters have pledged to sponsor a rabbit dance contest during the 2013 OLC Graduation Wacipi, in honor of their parent’s 46th wedding anniversary.

(Contact Karin Eagle at