‘It will never be forgotten’
Thu, 08/04/2016 - 5:00am admin
More than 250 gather to honor slain Pryor residents Jason and Tana Shane
By Andrew Turck, Big Horn County News
One year after a July 29, 2015 double homicide shook the Crow Reservation town of Pryor, a sense of hope and optimism is returning to the community of 600-plus.
Uniting residents Saturday morning was a march for victims Jason Shane Jr., 50, and Tana Shane, 47, who – in keeping with their helpful nature – were trying to aid the suspect with car trouble when they were shot.
To begin the 10 a.m. march, Crow Sen. Bryce Hugs of the Arrow Creek District helped give away 250 T-shirts in Jason and Tana’s honor; these were distributed among a long line of people within minutes. Scanning the crowd from the starting point at Chief Plenty Coups State Park and still finding some without T-shirts, he estimated more than 300 were in attendance.
During a feed in the park following the march, Pryor resident Alice Hunts The Arrow, Tana’s aunt, was pleased to see so many people, with their own lives and responsibilities, willing to participate, and even donate or volunteer for the event.
“All the support we’ve gotten from the community and outside, it will never be forgotten,” Hunts The Arrow said. “They have care and love. That’s why they showed their support for us.”
Hugs, who had been planning the march for two months, is connected to the Shane family both personally and by blood: Jason, 50, was his uncle and Tana, 47, his aunt. The family, as stated in multiple accounts, is large and closely-knit with two sons and five daughters.
“They were at every ball game, they were at school functions; wherever Jason and Tana were, the whole family was there,” said Tana’s cousin, Crow Sen. Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead of Arrow Creek. “They were kind and they would take their shirt off their back to help you.”
Throughout election season, Hugs remembers Jason for being the first to prepare and motivate him for campaigns, and Tana for helping his wife cook community feeds. “From setting up to cleaning up,” he said, Jason was always there. Tana would also pitch in with her beadwork, well-known among the Pryor community for its quality.
Outside the context of reminiscing, however, politics was downplayed by those attending with the focus on the Shane family and community healing.
“Politics is what destroys us,” said Secretary Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid to the assembled crowd. “At times, we tend to sever ourselves because of political affiliation. In a case like today, there were no politics and everybody’s getting along.”
The event T-shirts’ light blue color matches the dominant hue of Tana’s final beaded cradleboard, depicted on a sign carried by the marchers that, along with the shirts, states, “In Honor of Our Beloved Jason & Tana Shane.” It was selected by the Shane family, Hugs said, so they might remember their mother and father are watching over them.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,” states the back of the T-shirt, quoting Psalm 34:18, “and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
With the sign out front and T-shirts on, marchers both young and old began at Chief Plenty Coups State Park and made the trek to a spot along Pryor Gap Road marked by two small crosses and flowers. This location, emcee Donald Stewart Spotted Tail announced to those gathered, is “where everybody knows the incident happened.”
Some of the young children who joined in the march once knew Jason as the cook for the Crow Nation’s Head Start program. Tana, who worked for the tribe in Pryor’s sub-office, would sometimes stop by to help her husband cook for larger events.
“They always had a special place in their heart for the little ones and [the children] knew it,” said Hunts The Arrow, whose young grandson had met the Shanes on many occasions. “The little kids are always waiting for Jason and Tana.”
“My little grandson here, he never forgot that incident,” she continued, gesturing toward a boy climbing on a picnic table next to her. “As little as he is, he was wondering what was happening, who did it and why. He asks questions and we just tell him a little story, and let him know they had to go, they had to die.”
Hugs and Goes Ahead, at the march’s halfway point, aided volunteers in placing the sign atop poles between two small crosses marking the site of the incident.
While walking back to Plenty Coups Park, Goes Ahead said he hoped that placing the sign would serve as a memorial and bring healing to the family. They would not be forgotten, he continued, and the incident, while “appalling,” had positive side effects.
In addition to spurring the creation of the Arrow Creek Neighborhood Watch, who’s monitoring of the town has – by many accounts – driven down the area’s well-known drug activity; it also increased communication and started a spiritual awakening among tribal leaders. According to Goes Ahead, he prays for guidance and the tribe on a regular basis.
“God brought this community together,” he said. “A year ago, all the churches came together…those who are not part of a church, they still came. We all prayed together at the Plenty Coups museum.
“I believe that it took something like this for the community to wake up. We still have a generation we need to take care of.”
The younger generation, Goes Ahead continued, are now part of a significant event in community history.
“They will be told – I think and I hope so – that this is when the community came together,” he said. “It was an honor and a privilege that I got to be a part of this today.”