Harlan McKosato: Sending my mother home in the traditional way

Harlan McKosato. Photo from Facebook

Harlan McKosato says goodbye to his mother, Bette Free-McKosato, who passed away on August 9 at the age of 79. She was a member of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma:
In the hustle and bustle of the 21st Century, it’s not easy to drop everything and tend to your tribal traditions. Sometimes, if you respect your ancestors, you have no choice. Especially when it comes to a traditional burial, and especially when it comes time to put away your mother who is deserving of the honor to be buried in her traditional Native way.

All my life I have left it up to my elders to take care of the body of those who pass and to take care of all the ceremonies and protocols that go along with our four-day Ioway ritual. When I had questions I would simply ask my mother. On many occasions I have seen members of other families within the Ioway, or Bah’ Kho Je, people come to mom seeking advice and instruction.

As the death of my mother became reality and started sinking in, I realized that it would be up to my two sisters and me, along with my mom’s sister, to make the decisions and to take full responsibility for honoring my mother, Bette Free-McKosato, during her last few days on Mother Earth. I kept wishing I had paid more attention to these things when I was younger. We decided to go the traditional way. We didn’t know any other.

Get the Story:
Harlan McKosato: Helping Mom Walk On, Buried the Traditional Way (Indian Country Today 8/24)

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