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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Injun Robert" Say "Ugh, Sunrise Wind Not So Good"

The pre-dawn fire burns brightly in preparation for the Sunrise Wind ceremony.
“Injun Robert” McBride lit his fire and did his dance as the sun rose on Friday, the morning after the first day of Spring, and just as last year, his forecast is not an auspicious one.  He found the wind to be out of the southwest, which traditional Indian lore sees as an omen of below-average crops for the coming year.

For those of you who don’t know the history of Injun Robert’s rain dance, a little background is in order.  The ritual was an annual custom of the Plains Indians long before the white man came. 

Known in the Comanche language as Taba’na Yuan’e or the “Sunrise Wind” ceremony, it was observed around 1880 by a Mr. Crim, who was in charge of the mule teams used in building the T&P railway across west Texas.  While in the Van Horn area on the morning of March 22, he noticed puffs of smoke coming from all the Indian huts in sight.  He asked what was going on and was told that the Indians were seeing what kind of crops they would have that year by building a fire just before dawn and then, as the sun appeared, observing which direction the wind blew the smoke.  This was always done on the morning after the first day of spring. 

If the wind that carried the smoke upward was from the east or northeast, crops would be plentiful. A north or northwest wind foretold average yields, a west wind was bad, a southwest wind worse, and a south wind the worst of all. 

In the early 1970s “Injun George” Parks learned that the ceremony was still being performed annually in Muleshoe by old Mr. Crim’s son, referred to by the locals there as “Injun John.”  “Injun George” found out its particulars from “Injun John” and replicated them here for many years until shortly before his death in 1983.  In addition to observing the smoke, “Injun George” added a rain dance around the fire in hopes that it would lessen the effects of a bad forecast and increase those of a good one.

In 2012, “Injun Robert” McBride revived the practice, and the prediction turned out to be accurate.  On dawn of the day after the onset of spring, the wind was from the northwest, forecasting an average crop—and that’s just what we got. Then last year’s southwest wind predicted a below average crop, but we actually did somewhat better than that, so perhaps it was his rain dance that gave our chances the necessary boost. 

This year “Injun Robert” included another traditional Native American practice by adding a “rain turtle” to the ceremony.  This ritual, believed to bring rain to drought-stricken areas, involves drawing a turtle on the ground with a stick and then spitting on its back.  According to Wikipedia, the time required for the desired rain to come varies from almost immediately to several days.  And this morning, it did rain about a tenth of an inch, so maybe the “rain turtle” did work, but you could hardly call it a drought breaker.  Even so, every little bit helps, and more may be on the way.  

In any case, we still hope for a good crop this year. 



Whitney Williams threatens Adrian Ortega as Ashton Payne and Adam Pope look on during a performance of "The Phony Physician" at the Dinner Theater in the RCHS Cafetorium last week.
Roscoe High’s One-Act Play cast won their zone competition in Westbrook on Monday with their performance of “The Phony Physician.”  They will compete with Hermleigh, Rotan, and Trent for the district title in Westbrook tomorrow at 2:00pm. 

In the competition on Monday, the Best Actress Award went to Whitney Williams.  Selected to the All-Star Cast were Adrian Ortega and Ashton Payne with Korie Rogers receiving honorable mention.  Amber Craig received a Technical Crew award. 

The Director is RCHS Librarian Gay-Lynn Moses.



Plowboy Max Nemir prepares to pass the baton to Kevin Lavalais in the 4 x 400 meter relay. (Photo courtesy of Gordon Nemir.)
Several Roscoe athletes competed in the Angelo Relays at San Angelo last weekend. 

The Plowboys competed against athletes from Blackwell, Christoval, Forsan, Grape Creek, Panhandle, Pecos, Perryton, Reagan County, San Angelo Central JV, San Angelo Lake View JV, Sonora, Stanton, and Wall.  Here are the Plowboys who scored points:

Event                                Place             Athlete                            Time
3200 meter run                6             Jesus Leanos               10:46.72
300 meter hurdles           5             Max Nemir                        42.94

The Plowgirls competed against athletes from Ballinger, Forsan, Grape Creek, Midland Lee, Panhandle, Pecos, Perryton, Reagan County, San Angelo Central JV, San Angelo Lake View JV, Sonora, Stanton, and Wall. Here are the Plowgirls who scored points:

Event                                Place              Athlete                           Time
3200 meter run                6               Alejandra Solis          13:47.14
4 x 100 m. relay               6               Roscoe*                              54.79
100 meter hurdles           4              Sunshine Saddler            17.86
4 x 400 m. relay               5               Roscoe*                         4:25.40

* The Plowgirls’ relay teams comprise Lyndi Wilkinson, Whitney Williams, Eva Aguayo, and Sunshine Saddler.



The NOAA's official 90-day forecast for the US.  EC means the Roscoe area has an equal chance for above normal, normal, or below normal precipitation over the next three months.
For the past couple of days, weather forecasters were giving us a 40%-50% chance for rain last night and this morning, and we did get some precipitation at about six.  But it wasn’t much—maybe a tenth of an inch—just enough for “Injun Robert” to claim his “rain turtle” worked.  In any case, it’s the first appreciable precipitation we’ve had all year, so maybe it will bring us some more.

Otherwise, it’s been an up-and-down week as far as temperatures go.  On Friday the high was 85°F and the low was 59°, while two days later on Sunday the high was only 54° and the low 34° with the rest of the week somewhere in between.  The one constant has been the wind, which has blown from one direction or another all week.

And it will continue to blow today with 25-30mph south winds this afternoon with gusts up to 45mph.  Today’s high will be only in the mid-sixties, but tomorrow and the weekend will be warmer with afternoon temperatures climbing into the upper seventies and morning lows in the mid to upper forties.

At this time, there is no more rain in the forecast.



Graveside services for immediate family are pending for Mitchell High, 64, formerly of Roscoe, who passed away on Saturday, March 22, at Medical City in Dallas.

Mitchell was born to Roy and Margaret High on October 13, 1949, in Palestine, Texas, and moved with his family to Roscoe in 1956.  He was an active member of the Roscoe Boys Club and a 1967 graduate of Roscoe High School.  After graduation, he joined the U.S. Army and served in Germany.  Following his discharge, he followed in his father's footsteps and became a long-haul trucker.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Roy and Margaret High; brothers C. J., Gary, and Ricky; and by his sister Sue Iverson. He is survived by his brother, Roy High of Sweetwater, and sisters Marilyn Billard of Arlington, Texas; Deborah Leach of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Cathy Hurd of Atlanta, Georgia; as well as many nieces, great-nieces, nephews and great-nephews.

A memorial gathering is planned for Thursday, March 27, at the home of Marilyn Billard in Arlington.


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