My Thoughts: Learning About Love From My Dog

When I look into the eyes of my dog she teaches me what true love is all about. I learn from her loyalty and unconditional love just how important it is for us to be faithful and loving to one another.

Thank you, God, for giving me my dog. Her very presence gives me peace and comfort every day.

Remembering My Friend, Glen Douglas

Glen Douglas, February 1, 1927 – May 22, 2011

I miss my friend, Glen Douglas. I danced at the local (Spokane area) pow wows with him for many years. He was a special person and a good friend to many. Glen was always there with a helping hand, kindness, and words of wisdom to show support, and even guidance to his friends.

Many years ago, when my grandson, Joey Nania was a young teenager, I was able to introduce him to Glen. Joey often accompanied me to the local pow wows and he became quite a good dancer. This particular pow wow was the Gathering at The Falls Pow Wow, and is a night I will always remember as being very special. Glen was impressed with Joey and took an instant liking to him. He put his hands on Joey’s shoulders and softly said to him, “Keep doing what you are doing, I am honored to meet you.” Joey and I danced the next song and after it was over, Joey said to me, “Grandpa, when Glen put his hands on my shoulders, I felt a warm feeling go through my body and I knew he had blessed me in a special way, and I also know that he didn’t mean just for me to keep dancing! I feel empowered to know that I have a special path ahead of me.” The moon was full that night, making the experience seem even more magical. We both reflected on what a special evening we had experienced together, and that it was a night we would always remember.

Joey has since truly chosen his path wisely. He pursed his life-long passion for fishing and has become a successful Professional Bass Fisherman. He moved to Alabama to be closer to his fishing opportunities. There, he met and married the love of his life, a wonderful young woman named Jessica. They now have two delightful little boys and continue to work together to build a good life for their family. He is also now co-hosting his own fishing show, called Sweetwater Fishing TV. Joey is very happy and that makes me very happy.

Another memory of Glen’s goodness stands out in my mind. I had been to the sweat lodge for Native Americans at our local Veterans Hospital with a close friend of mine named Tom. Like Glen, Tom had also been through the Vietnam war. Tom came back from the war with a lot of stress and regret, and suffered trauma because of it. Glen helped him so much! He took an eagle feather, prayed over it, and lightly brushed it over Tom’s head, saying, “The Creator has taken away the negative energy that you have been carrying, and now the pain from the past memories will leave you.”

Glen was always surrounded by friends.

I will never forget how in his wise and gentle manor, Glen was able to help so many people who had suffered through the same kinds of experiences that he had in the war. He was a true warrior who was blessed with the ability and character to overcome adversity and help others who had experienced the trauma of war because of it. Many of the wounds of war are carried for years within the minds of warriors, and Glen used his Creator-Given gifts to help his fellow Veterans. He loved his country and was a true Patriot.

In May of 2011, at the age of 84, Glen Douglas passed away and went to live with our Creator. Many of his native friends and relatives came to his funeral. I felt truly honored to be there and be included as one of his friends. We gathered at the graveside together to honor him and wish him farewell. Part of the native custom is to take a handful of Mother Earth and place it in the grave with a prayer. As we did this, we heard a familiar loud chirping above us, as a Bald Eagle circled the grave and flew away high in the sky. There was not a dry eye among us at that moment. We all knew it was his final farewell to us. It was an incredible experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Thanks, Glen!

Remembering My Dad and His Role in Developing the Liberty Lake Regional Park

“By the Stream” by Howard Ball (flute solo) and video footage, by Keith Harris is dedicated to my dad, Howard T. Ball for his role in preserving this beautiful treasure in Liberty Lake, Washington. 

In 1966 my father, Howard T. Ball was a  county commissioner in Spokane, Washington.The Miller family owned the land now known as The Liberty Lake Regional Park (a.k.a. Liberty Lake County Park) The family had owned the gorgeous, lush, forested land on the shores of Liberty Lake in Eastern Washington since 1930. When it came time for the Millers, in their aging years to consider selling the land, my dad, along with friend and fellow county commissioner, Jack Geraghty, went to work convincing the county to purchase the land and preserve it forever for future generations to enjoy. The Millers sold their 2,983 acres to Spokane County in 1966.

My good friend, Keith Harris has hiked over 500 miles in the park in the last 2 years. He shot and developed this video sharing the sounds of nature and the beauty of the stream and waterfall. He then, in his recording studio added my flute to the video. In this video I am playing a song that I have titled, “By the Stream.” I love how the sounds of nature (the birds, insects, and flowing water) perfectly accompany my flute music.

A view from the lake of the marsh shoreline
and forest,
part of
The Liberty Lake Regional Park

Liberty Lake Regional Park, located on the shores of Liberty Lake, Washington in Spokane County is one of the largest county parks in the state of Washington, with over 3,000 acres of wetlands, lake shore, beautiful forest, including the most delicious smelling cedar forest, gorgeous stream and waterfall.

A view of the marshland and shoreline from the beach
in Liberty Lake Regional Park

The park has a designated swimming beach, shelters, and playground equipment, and is a favorite destination for families in the Spokane area. There is also a nice, well-maintained campground and many miles of trails. The long, board walk, reaching out into the middle of the marsh lands, with a view of the mountains and Liberty Lake is a favorite for photo taking and viewing the many varieties of water fowl.

My Grandson, Joey and his wife, Jessica with their two boys,
Zeke and Eli and my granddaughter, Sammy

The Liberty Lake Loop Trail has a beautiful cedar forest and waterfall as seen in my video. The hike through the cedars and to the waterfall is 8.5 miles.

On the trail with some of my family in the
Liberty Lake Regional Park

I personally have walked the park trails for almost 20 years, either by myself or with my friends or my kids and grand kids. I love this place and have always appreciated it for its beauty and serenity. As I walk or sit by this stream, I am always grateful to my dad, Howard T. Ball for his part in saving the land to be enjoyed by all. Since his passing, I feel he is watching me and my kids and grandkids as we come here often to enjoy it and create memories. Thank you, Dad.

Photos by my daughter, Debbie

Ceremony of Tears, a Poem About the Building of Grand Coulee Dam and a Tribute to the Local Native People

Image result for Grand coulee dam being built

Ceremony of Tears

The Grand Coulee Dam would have no fish ladder to climb,
no way for the salmon to get up the line.

For many generations the Indians had fished the river there,
thousands of salmon running year after year.

The salmon would swim up the Columbia river to spawn,
where the Indian people fished from dusk to dawn.

The white man didn’t understand or care about the Indian way,
how much the fish helped them from day to day.

The spawning salmon and the food that they gave
were meals that their families could store and save.

The fish would swim to a place that was called Kettle Falls.
Many tribes would come there when the season would call.

A Salmon Chief was chosen out of respect.
He would take care of problems, lead and direct.

The young men would climb out over the falls,
and catch the jumping salmon in basket stalls.

They’d fish with spears and nets too,
any way they could catch them and subdue.

The men would then pass the salmon to the shore,
where women and children prepared them and more.

The women placed the salmon on sticks around a fire, and some to sun-dry,
to store them for the future – such an important supply.

The days were long with excitement and strife.
Oh how they would miss this old way of life.

There were Chelans, Colvilles, Nespelems, and the San Poils;
The Lakes, the Palouse, and Wenatchees laboring in their toil.

The Methow, the Okanogan, and Chief Joseph’s band,
they all shared in the fishing and gave a helping hand.

The Kalispell and the Kootenai fished there too,
and the Bloods came from Canada – there weren’t just a few.

The Spokane Tribe and the Coeurd’Alene’s came,
the quest to catch the returning salmon was always the same.

They named the huge lake that covered the land, Lake Roosevelt,
for the United States President who had taken a stand.

From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Canadian border,
it was 140 miles of lake to get into order.

The dam would provide energy and irrigation for a lot of dry earth,
yet cover towns where people had lived since the time of their birth.

The beautiful history and culture of a people covered forever,
could not be saved with another endeavor.

The changing world, and modern progress were here to stay,
and so the people gathered to grieve and remember on this final day.

They traveled from many places, covering hundreds of miles,
to say a final farewell to their fishing grounds known as Kettle Falls.

The gathering of the people with their memories, questions, and fears
would forever be known as, The Ceremony of Tears.

By Howard Ball

As founder and owner of Ball and Dodd Funeral Home in Spokane, Washington, My father was in charge of moving all of the Indian graves to higher ground when Grand Coulee Dam was built. The stories of the people’s sadness and challenges at their way of life being forever changed greatly affected me. I wrote this poem as a tribute to the Native People of this region. Please see my blog post about the film, Echoes of Yesterday, produced by Lon Gibby Productions, which documents my father’s project.

For a recording of me reciting this poem, accompanied by my flute music, please listen here:

Ceremony of Tears 

      Ceremony of Tears

For more recordings of my music and recitations see my Flute Sounds page.

Echoes of Yesterday, By Lon Gibby Productions

Echoes of Yesterday, by Lon Gibby Productions

This is a documentary that tells an important part of the History of Washington State and the local Native people. It is about a reclamation project headed by my dad, Howard T. Ball, founder of Ball and Dodd Funeral Home in Spokane, Washington. He was in charge of relocating the native graves that were going to be covered by water when Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State was built. (The lake that was created was called Lake Roosevelt.) All of the sacred burial sites would be relocated before the dam was finished. He removed just over 1300 graves. He hired mostly Indian labor and worked closely with the native people and their chief, who were able to find the remains, and relocate them in new cemeteries established above the pending water line. The water would later rise 1300 feet above the normal level of the Columbia River. During this reclamation project he became a friend of Jim James, who was the Chief of the San Poil people. (San Poil is one of the Colville Confederated Tribes)  Chief James taught Dad how to find many of the old burial sights.

Chief, Jim James, Howard T. Ball, Henry Covington

Howard T. Ball (top row, right) with Chief Jim James (bottom row, right)
and friends and family

Dad took pictures and movies of the entire project. This video was later made by Lon Gibby Productions from his original film, taken in 1939. You will see my dad interviewed in this amazing documentary of this important part of North American history.

The video shows many of the pictures and film taken at Kettle Falls where Native People had fished for generations. This location was considered a sacred place, and if anyone passed away while fishing at Kettle Falls, they were buried above the fishing grounds.

This evacuation was a huge loss for all of the local tribes of the region – the loss of their fishery, and the salmon that had fed their people for centuries.

In 1940, the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest gathered in remembrance, and mourned the loss of their ancestral fishing grounds. The gathering lasted for three days and was called “The Ceremony of Tears”.

It was estimated that eight to ten thousand people attended. Thus, this video shows the impact that the Grand Coulee Dam had on the Native People.

Purchase this video here: Echoes of Yesterday

See my blog post and a poem that I wrote as a tribute to the Indian people of this region. Ceremony of Tears, The Building of Grand Coulee Dam and a Tribute to the Local Indian People 

Gathering at the Falls Pow Wow, Spokane, Washington

Spokane, Washington became a city in 1891. For hundreds of years, long before the City of Spokane existed, the Native People camped and fished at the falls on the Spokane River. The salmon would swim over the falls to go back to the their spawning ground. The young Indian men built ramps that would go out over the falls in order to catch the salmon. They would then pass the salmon over to the women and children waiting on the shore. The women and children would then clean the fish and lay them out to dry. Many families would come to the falls to share in the gathering of the salmon. It was a grand celebration of abundance and unity.

Spokane, Washington, Peaceful Valley, 1925
Monroe Street Bridge in the background

The Spokane area native people are blessed to host a Pow Wow and dance in this location, which is now Spokane’s Riverfront Park. Here, they continue to celebrate and honor the past. This beautiful and lively celebration is open to the public. For more information : Gathering at the Falls Pow Wow

Talking with Spokane’s Mayor, David Condon

I take part in this celebration almost every year. We dance to give thanks for the gift of the salmon, and the beauty of the rushing water; thanking our Creator for all that He gives to those of us who follow His path. The dances have been learned and passed on to people for many generations. This makes this a sacred place to gather with common unity.

 Melvin Ellenwood, Tom Wesley, Howard Ball

Native American Version of the Twenty Third Psalm (Psalm 23)

Please take a moment to listen to my latest recording (scroll to bottom of post) as I recite the Native American Version of the 23rd Psalm. I am also playing Amazing Grace on the flute in the background.
howard_regalia_tp“I will go to live in the “Big Tepee” and sit down with my Shepherd Chief forever.”

THE GREAT FATHER above is a Shepherd Chief. I am His, and with him I want not.

He throws out to me a rope, and the name of the rope is Love, and He draws me to where the grass is green, and the water not dangerous, and I lie down satisfied.

Sometimes my heart grows weak and falls down, but He lifts it up again and draws me into a good road. His name is Wonderful.

Sometime, it may be soon, it may be a long, long time – He will draw me into a place between these mountains. It is dark here, but I shall not draw back. I shall be afraid not, for it is between these mountains that the Shepherd Chief will meet me, and the hunger that I have felt in my heart all through this life will be satisfied.

Sometimes He makes the love rope into a whip, but afterwards He gives me a staff to lean upon.

He spreads a table before me with all kinds of food. He puts His hand upon my head and all the “tired is gone.” My cup, He fills till it runs over.

What I tell is true. Doubt not. These roads that are “away ahead” will stay with me all through this life, and afterwards I will go to live in the “Big Tepee” and sit down with my Shepherd Chief forever.~Psalm 23 (Native American Version)

This was read at my father’s funeral in 1978. Dad founded Ball and Dodd Funeral  Home in Spokane, Washington in 1939. He loved the Indian people and he loved this version of the twenty third Psalm.

His first project after starting the funeral business, was to relocate all of the Indian graves that were going to be covered by water when the Grand Coulee Dam was built.  All of the sacred burial sites would be relocated before the dam was finished. He removed just over 1300 graves and relocated them above the pending water line. The lake that was created was called Lake Roosevelt. During this project he became a friend of Jim James. James was the Chief of the San Poil People. (See my blog post, Echoes of Yesterday telling more about this project and the documentary that was made about this important part of American History.)

The picture below shows Dad, Chief James, and some of his family and friends. Dad always told me how much he respected Chief James.

Chief James is in the hat on the right.
Dad (Howard T. Ball) is in the second row next to him.

Sometimes it is hard to remember some of the good times we had as children, but the memories of this project as told by my father, will always remain in my heart. The Colville, the Kalispel, and the Spokane people have become lifetime friends and I still enjoy their friendships as I move through life.

Chief James, Howard T. Ball (Dad), Henry Covington

I have spent the last 16 years of my life dancing at the local pow wows and getting involved with the local native people. Learning about their beliefs, their customs, and their history.

Please take a moment to listen to my latest recording as I recite the Native American Version of the 23rd Psalm. I am also playing Amazing Grace on the flute in the background.

For more recordings of my poems, prayers, and flute music, please visit my Flute Sounds page.

      Native American Version of Psalm 23

The Best Fisherman in the World

osprey fish

One night, many years ago, I had a dream. In my dream I was told to call my then eight-year-old grandson and tell him that there was a gift waiting for each of us underneath a huge, old, dead tree, about a mile from his house. For a moment, I wondered which tree the gift could be under? Maybe it was the tree over-looking the lake with a large nest on top that we so often walked by? I knew that the bird that occupied the nest was an osprey and they are fantastic fishers. I felt confident that this must be the correct tree. (When I think about it, I think that the osprey was talking to me in my dream.)

I called my grandson the next morning and told him about my dream. We decided to walk to the osprey nest. When we arrived it was early morning and the lake was sparkling with sunshine. We spotted the tree from the road and climbed down the hill to look beneath the tree. The ospreys were already out fishing. Suddenly, my grandson excitedly exclaimed, “Look Grandpa, I found your gift!” as he pointed to a perfect raven feather. The raven had always been a special bird to me, and my grandson knew it. As I reached to pick up the raven feather, I spotted his gift a couple of feet below mine – a beautiful,  osprey feather with seven stripes on it. I explained to him that those stripes had a special meaning in the Native American culture and that they had to do with what is known as the Seven Directions – North, South, East, West, Earth, Sky, and the seventh, our Heart, the place where God’s spirit lives within us.

We were both excited about our gifts. As I climbed back up the steep hill to the road, I realized my grandson was not right behind me. Looking down, I saw him with his arms wrapped around the old tree. It looked as though he was praying. When he climbed back up the hill, I asked him what he was praying about?  He said ,”I was asking the osprey to make me the best fisherman in the world.”

Seven years later, at the age of fifteen, he won The Junior Bass Master World Championship. He won it again at the age of eighteen. His prayer was answered. He indeed became The Best (Junior) Fisherman in the World.

My Grandson, Joey Nania is now 25 years old and living in Alabama. He is happily married with two small boys of his own. He is a professional bass angler, fishing guide, and co-host of his own fishing show – Sweetwater Fishing TV.

Thinking of Those Who Have Gone Before Us

Feeling sad
Dancing at one of our local pow wows and remembering the years past

As I get older, I realize that many of the friends I’ve socialized with are no longer with me. I know we all lose friends and family as the years go by. I want to thank each of mine for sharing their lives with me. When I hear the drums and the native singing, it causes me to reflect on how much I miss them and how grateful I am for each and every one. The sound of this beautiful, haunting music has been on our earth for many thousands of years and has been passed down from generation to generation; honoring and celebrating every passing soul, as well as those still living.

Sometimes fellow dancers will ask me, “Why do you look so sad?” I tell them that I am remembering the past, and that I am reminded of how each new day is a gift from our Creator, and that as we walk the path we chose, we are directed daily to be grateful and to make good decisions.

I am trying not to put too much emphasis on the past, concentrating instead on being grateful and making each new day a positive one; knowing that if I am fortunate enough to experience another day, I will make the most of it!

I believe that each new day is like a dance, from the time we get up until we go to sleep. I pray for a good dance each day.