21 year old PFC Sheldon Hawk Eagle, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe,
was among the seventeen soldiers who were killed on Friday, November 14, 2003, in a tragic crash between two U.S. helicopters in Northern Iraq, believed to have been caused
by enemy fire.
Sheldon Ray Hawk Eagle was carried to the Heart of
all that is, Paha Sapa, the Black Hills and laid to rest as
warrior with honor, dignity and respect.
His body was carried by a horse- drawn cart.
His coffin covered with a flag and eagle feathers.
A riderless horse draped with a red, white and blue
blanket waited with the horse drawn cart.
The horse, called a spirit horse will carry the warrior
swiftly to heaven. The horse wears an Eagle feather,
to represent Sheldon, for the thoughts of a man that should
rise as high as do the eagles and his sacrifice for his Nations.
It is the highest honor given to a warrior.
Sheldon descends from Tshunka Witko.
Chief Crazy Horse who helped defeat
Lt. Col.George Armstrong Custer, at the
Battle of Greasy Creek (Little Big Horn).
The coffin and the pall bearers were purified with
sweetgrass. Each of the twelve, wore yellow ribbons
tied around their arms.
The Lakota people are a warrior people. It is an honor
to be a warrior and protect your land, your freedom and
your family. Because they were here first,
they love the land more than any other race.
This Lakota Warrior made the ultimate sacrifice
for both his Nations.
For 18 hours, an overnight vigil, hundreds of Tribal
members listened to both Christian and Lakota
prayers and honor songs by drum groups.
There were giveaways and feasts.
At sunrise, a two hour funeral, followed by a three
hour procession, carried Hawk Eagle's body
one hundred and fifty miles to the Black Hills,
the heart of all there is in Lakota tradition.
Color guards from the Cheyenne River, Rosebud,
Standing Rock, Oglala and Sisseton Wahpeton
tribes bore the flags of the Nations.
Proof of the family's goodwill was evident,
when they began giving away jars, vases, and
baskets of flowers that had been sent.
They handed out bouquets to the elders and then
one flower for each of the mourners to press in the
memorial program in remembrance.
Pillows, towels, baskets bowls and household goods
were passed out to the hundreds in attendance.
Giveaways are traditional among the nations during
important occasions. It is the Lakota way.
Sheldon's sister, Frankie and their relatives,
stood to drape stack after stack of
Lakota Star quilts over friends and elders.
The Lakota have a relationship, with the Big Dipper
constellation. In Lakota culture, it is said to help the
deceased on their way to the spirit world.
The family completed the giveaway and faced the east.
Mitakuye Oyasin, all my relatives, began the elder.
We pray for this day, your wisdom and not our own.
We pray for one mind and one spirit.
On a small table to the right, lay a bronze star and
a purple heart awarded to Sheldon.
The trills and honor songs, speaking his Lakota name,
"Wanbli Ohitika" (Brave Eagle). pierced the air.
The women and the elders lined the procession route,
draped with the star quilts in his honor.
The riderless horse, with boots backward in the
stirrups symbolizing a fallen soldier.
Indian drums and honor songs welcomed the hero
to the sacred Paha Sapa, his final resting place.
As he was being buried, a Black Hawk helicopter flew
over the cemetery, lingered in the snowy hills.
It flew into the heart of all that is,
and was gone.
~~Somehow, it did not seem like enough.~~
Our Eagle soars with wings, today.
If you listen closely, you will hear the
He'll be watching from above
Still sharing of his love.
Today, our Eagle soars with wings
Honor Song by
University of North Dakota student, Gary LaPointe,
has set up a fund in Sheldon's memory.
Sheldon lived with his aunt and sister on the
UND campus, before he joined the military.
Sheldon's parents, Bernice Strikes Enemy and
Allen Hawk Eagle are both deceased.
He lived most of his life in Eagle Butte with Aunts and
family, but had lived in N.D. most recently.
Donations can be sent to the University Credit Union
in Grand Forks.
Cards and gifts may be sent to:
540 Carlton Court #13
Grand Forks, ND 58203
~Anything that has reminded you,
of how precious life is and has taught
you to treasure the relations---is a blessing.~
For updated US Military Casuality listing
in Iraq: List updated daily
Please Visit Our Tribute To:
Lori Ann Piestewa
Page Last Updated: December 30, 2008
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December 2, 2003 © 2008