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Drivers have a responsibility themselves and to others

Dec 2, 2012 - Father Hugo L. Blotsky, Thermopolis

Editor:

Leonard Moss, a member of St. Stephen's Mission and a medicine man on the Wind River Indian Reservation, and I held a purifying ceremony to cleanse the elements in the Wind River Canyon on Sunday, Oct. 21.

This date was selected to honor Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who was the first Native American to be declared a saint in ceremonies at the Vatican that same day. Her father was a Mohawk chief, and her mother belonged to the Algonquin tribe near present day New York State. She died in the 17th century.

First, I offered a prayer asking the Lord's blessing upon all travelers through the Canyon whether by highway, rail, or water. I blessed the area with holy water in the four directions. That was followed by Leonard sprinkling cedar on hot charcoals and then with eagle feathers smudging in the four directions while praying God's blessings and protection upon all travelers.

According to the tradition in the Catholic Church and in the American Indian tradition, the natural elements need to be purified when they have been tainted through an act of violence, especially when human blood has been shed. Burning incense, cedar, sage, or sweet grass in ceremonies is our way of honoring and glorifying the Creator. Blessing the elements is a way of restoring the elements to God's purposes: water, soil, rocks, trees, plants, and air.

Hot Springs County Sheriff Lou Falgoust then drove me to areas in the canyon where there had been between 8-10 fatalities, drownings, and a train derailment during the last 10 years. At each site, I offered a prayer for the repose of the soul of the deceased and then blessed the area with holy water.

Sheriff Lou was saying that accidents occur through the 15-mile canyon due to hazardous weather conditions, fatigue, and illegal passing.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol reported that more than 85 percent of accidents involving vehicles on our roads and highways are avoidable incidents.

Driving a vehicle places a responsibility upon the driver to protect the lives of passengers from injury or death, and to prevent causing injury or death to other travelers that one meets on the highway or road.

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