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Carry The Kettle Elder Dies At Age 79

Martha Ironstar

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MAY 1992      v21 n03 p13  
Doug O'Watch
Carry the Kettle Elder,
Doug O'Watch
The Nakota Oyate gathered recently at Carry The Kettle gym for a traditional feast to mark the passing of a well respected Assiniboine Elder, Douglas O'Watch. The feast started with an elder who twitched an eagle-feather fan smudging the food with sweetgrass. The participants also smudged themselves with sweetgrass for purification. The gym was filled with the smell of sweetgrass and an air of reverence was felt throughout the ceremony.

"Doug", as everyone called him, was born in 1913 and named "Ta s"unke-obi"or "His Horse Was Wounded". His father James O'Watch Sr. and mother Red Feather were one of the first Assiniboines to settle on the "Hurricane Hills" as it was known back then in 1908. Doug's relative through his grandfather was named "Was-e-can" whose name also appears on the original band list. The O'Watch family tie is also with one of the last Assiniboine hereditary Chiefs, "Carry the Kettle" himself.

In his summer years, Doug was filled with relentless energy. He excelled in sports, playing the games of the season such as baseball, football, or hockey. He enjoyed riding horses. He worked for the PFRA tree farm at nearby town of Indian Head. Back at the reserve he argued with officials for better equipment for reserve farmers. He drove the school bus for 14 years, the children on the reserve have fond memories of him, he showed his caring and generosity to them, he was a friend.

Serving on the band council, his wisdom attributed to many political decisions made by the band. He was the voice of the little guy, when someone needed advice or assistance Doug was someone you could count on to listen. His concern for the senior citizens of the band was shown when he fought politically to bring the Nakota Lodge Senior Citizens Centre to reality. A place where the seniors can meet, relax, and enjoy each other's company. Doug served as treasurer of the centre.

The love for his people was always first in his life and he lived in the ways of his ancestors. As a pipe carrier, he was summoned to pray for people who were sick, needing advice or blessings.

"He was our leader, we're really going to miss him. We came to him for prayer and advice so his loss will be felt and he will be greatly missed," said Kay Thompson, nice and resident of Carry The Kettle.

Doug has understood the events that took place between the outside world and his people. He has seen his people struggle with the symptoms of spiritual impoverishment, fighting the problems of alcoholism. The pressures of society was met with caring and understanding from Doug who always had an encouraging word. Due to some quality-a dept of belief, a patience, a stubbornness-Carry The Kettle band has survived all odds by helping each other through his encouragement. His words were to encourage the Assiniboine people to keep their traditions, even if it takes relearning the almost-lost language and culture. To bring the Assiniboine culture to a place of honor and meaning. He was influential. He was humble. He was an intelligent elder. Memories of "Ta S'unke-obi" will live in our hearts.