Donald Hollowbreast

Donald Hollowbreast, Journalist and Artist

This morning I was looking at pictures of the Heritage Living Center. The picture of the front entrance caught my eye, and I thought about my old friend Donald Hollowbreast. He moved on to the next camp nearly two years ago, before he fulfilled his wish to live at the Center.

Donald lived a traditional Cheyenne life, yet even with only an eighth-grade education he became a successful journalist, an amazing feat since he was deaf. He gathered the information for his weekly newspaper by interviewing elders using Indian sign language. His goal was always to keep the Northern Cheyenne culture alive. He was fearful that the younger people were losing the knowledge of their history, culture and roots.

When the Heritage Living Center was in the early planning stages, I visited with him to explain that the center would be a home for the Cheyenne elders, a place where they would get the care they needed; a warm home, good nutritious meals and loving care. Donald became our first Northern Cheyenne donor. Although he was ill, he wrote an article for our newsletter and sent periodic gifts from his meager social security payments. His last gift in the amont of $10.00 was given the year before he died — in a nursing home many miles away from the reservation, friends and relatives.

Donald made various suggestions that we incorporated into the Heritage Living Center. He was adamant that the front door had to face East. As the sun rises in the morning, the Cheyenne welcome the Creator and pray for His blessings upon the people. When I looked at the enclosed picture of the front door, Donald’s words echoed in my mind, and I envisioned the elders coming out of the front door at sunrise to offer their morning prayers.

Donald used the descriptive Cheyenne language even to express ideas in English. He made a point of always adding an individual’s “Indian Name” when writing or speaking about tribal members. He always used Cheyenne names for the months of the year.

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