While thousands of people were filing through a cornfield Saturday, a rare private ceremony was quietly happening near Art and Helen Tanderup's home. That's where Willie Nelson and Neil Young received the highest honor from the Great Sioux Nation.
Nestled between two tour busses and a tipi where Young slept Friday night, each artist was privately presented with a painted buffalo hide from a traditional Omaha and Lakota tribal artist Steve Tamayo. Although the event could not be photographed or recorded by media, several were allowed to witness the honoring.
According to Bold Nebraska, "It has long been the tradition of Plains tribes to honor men when they stand up on behalf of the people. The buffalo robe is a sign of love, affection and one of the symbols that acknowledges a man when he has achieved the highest of honors."
The buffalo hide was hand-painted with symbols to tell the story of people killing the black snake which in tribal prophecy is believed to be the Keystone XL pipeline, a threat to land and water.
Tribes involved in the honoring comprise the Oceti Sakowin — the Seven Council Fires of Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples — commonly known as the Great Sioux Nation. Arvol Looking Horse and the Ponca and Omaha nations were also involved.
"In preparation for this honoring, we consulted tribal elders and leadership from the Oceti Sakowin, as well as the Ponca and the Omaha nations. They agree that this is an appropriate honoring not only for your assistance in the concert but also for your lifelong commitment to helping indigenous peoples and family farmers
and ranchers everywhere," Bold Nebraska released.
Nelson and Young also received and a handcrafted leather piece from a traditional boot maker in the Sandhills, Kyle Rosfeld.
All photos below courtesy of Bold Nebraska.