I Thessalonians 5:18
"Therefore encourage each other with these words."
Sept 12, 2010
I have been getting phone calls and e-mails...from those in total disbelief that our friend is now gone. A lot of people had made plans to meet her someday. I lot of people only knew her as the voice on the other end of the line who was always willing and ready to answer any questions they asked. A lot of people are hurt that they will not see her on this earth. So they carry the memories of a voice, a gentle voice of one who was eager to admit she did not know it all but was willing to research or ask those who knew the answer in order to make sure their answers were met. So we seek to look for closure of a person who was placed before us as a servant sent to us by God the Creator. A servant who God knew we needed and whose wisdom and understanding of who we are as Lipan Apaches was deep.
For me, I will just miss that friendly voice on the other side of the phone each time I needed advice or prayer or direction. I met with her many times and am grateful for being able to know her so well. So I stand between her death and those who are seeking for some kind of comfort or word of encouragement. I guess as I talked today I couldn't help but think of a verse given by Paul. He wrote, "Therefore encourage each other with these words." What words did Paul want us to encourage each other with? They were of our faith. For he said, "We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." Paul assured us that if our faith is in Christ, we will see our loved ones and friends one more time; that death is not the end of life, but the beginning of life where we will spend an eternity with Him forever.
Lipan Apache Tribe Council Vice-Chair
Dear Tribe Members,
I want to thank everyone who prayed for our travel and time with Nancy Minor's family as we celebrated - not the death of a loved one, but her life. Nancy was a remarkable lady. She went out of the way to help our tribe and it seemed like that was all she did; but there was another side to our good friend besides being a good wife and mother. Nancy had a special love for her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She committed a lot of her time to her church. I learned that she spent a lot of time praying and studying the Bible. Her pastor said there was not a verse he could speak on that she did not know. She committed her life to memorizing the Scriptures and teaching them. She was a Sunday School teacher to a bunch of teenagers. One parent told me that all her students were still active in church today. I also learned that she was a cheerleader in high school. I met some of her cheerleading teammates at the funeral. One of them told me, "There was a wild part of Nancy you guys never knew about. Man, she was a class A cheerleader!"
Many thanks also to all who were able to come to her funeral. There were tribal members from all over Texas. Most drove between 150 miles to 600 miles. One family drove from Oklahoma and another family flew in from North Carolina. I estimate there were more than 50 tribal members at the funeral.
Both Chairman Bernard and I did part of the funeral service and spoke. I had the privilege of writing a song and dedicating it to her at the service. At the cemetery, we sang an old farewell song that basically says, "until we meet again." I had the privilege to smudge and pray for Nancy at the cemetery. It was an awesome time of celebrating the life of this special lady.
Afterwards we were all invited to her church for a reception. It was invaded by a whole bunch of hungry Lipan Apaches. I was so blessed to be able to meet so many of you for the first time. We are separated by so many miles that it was good to see a face for the voice on the phone and the words I get through e-mails. I thank you for your support and prayers for Nancy.
Nancy will never be forgotten. The memories of her life will live on in all we do as Lipan Apaches. Her work and research will remain on for a long time.
God bless and thanks for your support and prayers.
Lipan Apache Tribe
trusted Friend, Blood Sister and Tribal Historian of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas,
Nancy McGown Minor,
who will be forever known as,
“Heh-Hee-Fteh-Heh-Nah-Heh-Tu”, “Smiling Rain”,
Smiling Rain now stands in the “Land of Forever Summer” amidst those she came to know through her tireless and devoted work, amidst those whom she searched and those who came to her. Together they will join in good talk and she will tell them of their sons and daughters that continue to walk their path in beauty. She will tell them of how far the N’de have come and the Grandfathers will be proud of their sons and daughters. She will tell them of how the N’de have maintained themselves with honor, with integrity, never forgetting who they truly were and they will know that the Blood is back, that the Blood has returned to the lands and is still alive within Us today. They will know the N’de are ALIVE, tenfold stronger and still HERE!
Smiling Rain showed us who we were and for those of us who lost everything due to living in another’s culture, in another’s ways for so long, she brought it back to us. She was always there to guide our footsteps back to the N’de working tirelessly to help us connect back to that which was taken from so many of us and was once rightfully ours…our Lipan heritage. She fanned the flame so the burning within us would continue until our minds, bodies and souls were joined as One, helping us to emerge into our true selves. She helped us to understand ourselves, bringing logic to so many unanswered questions and feelings we couldn’t understand. So much was locked within us, so many feelings and things we did not know where they were coming from; why we felt the way we did. She shed light and logic on all of that guiding our true selves out of the darkness by re-connecting us to our roots. For this and for so much more the N’de will be forever grateful to our Blood sister, Smiling Rain.
In the past so many took from us, our lives, our ways, our language and our lands but Smiling Rain was on a mission, she loved the Lipan and through her tireless, selfless efforts…she tried to bring it all back. Perhaps history will be re-written “as it should’ve been,” (words spoken by Smiling Rain) and the N’de will be acknowledged as a fully fledged Texas Tribe…but only the passing of the seasons will tell. But through Creator’s gift of Smiling Rain on the N’de there are now books that tell our story and shed light on who we were and are today… a People no longer considered “extinct.” Despite the sadness and injustices of the past, we are a Blessed tribe. We are the only free-roaming Apache in the U.S. We still know no borders or limitations. We are free to come and go. Like Chairman Barcena pointed out. “Our people went through the Fire and came out Refined.” Smiling Rain insured that others would know about the N’de through the books that she wrote, Chevato, Turning Adversity to Advantage and The Light Gray People. Because of Smiling Rain, the Grandfathers and the Blood spoke loud until it was heard and the very State that once turned against the N’de now recognizes Us as a People.
We must not tire in our walk or allow the flame to die within Us or among Us because our beloved Smiling Rain is now shining in the heavens and not physically with us. There is still much that needs to be done. Because of Smiling Rain we can hold our heads up high. We no longer have to hide or walk in another’s shadow. We can be proud of who we are for we have taken the adversity of the past and transformed it to our advantage. Due to assimilation, we have learned to seize opportunities that only belonged to others, like education, good jobs and a better living for our children all the while keeping that burn inside of us and we will continue to do so in honor and remembrance of Smiling Rain. We will continue to honor her and keep her alive in our daily walk and know at the end of each day, as her name implies, that she will be smiling down on us with that twinkle in her eye, Showering us with Blessings like the soft summer rain reassuring us that everything is alright and she will be keeping watch over us. United and Strong! The N’de will continue to keep the flame burning so others will find their way to Us and through many moons and many suns, through many summers and winters that come…the N’de will continue to walk in beauty. We are the N’de! and We are still Here! and the Spirit of the N’de will Prevail! Rest now dear sister in the Land of Forever Summer. Your vision for the N’de will continue… through us, our children, and our grand-children for generations to come. You will be remembered and honored in our songs, our dances, and our daily walks. The Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas thanks you for your loving heart, your beautiful soul, your tireless dedication and devotion to the N’de. Rest now and be at Peace.
An angel was called to heaven today
And quickly touched us as she left
So swift was her departure
Our hearts would surely break
Creator’s Call came much too soon
For those whose hearts were near
It caught us without warning
Thus leaving us with tears
Tears of Love for an earthly angel
Who touched many with her wings
Her heart of gold she gave to us
Among so many things
But we couldn’t keep her here with us
For her mission here was done
And we must heed Creator’s Call
With the rising of the sun
Her light will shine forever bright
In the heavens, in the skies
And when we chance to catch a glimpse
Of a bright, yet twinkling star
We’ll know that she is smiling down and
Winking back at us
With that smile and twinkle in her eye
For now she’s watching over us
From the Land of Forever Summer far beyond
And she sits around the campfire
As those who’ve gone before have done
Yes…an angel was called to heaven today
And she quickly touched us as she left
So swift was her departure
Our hearts would surely break.