Audrey Lecordier – “Napayshni” (2013)


And now I’d like to ask Audrey LeCordier to come forward.

Last year, I mentioned that Lillian Burke might be the first of our naming recipients to have an actual connection to Native Americans.  Well, Audrey has probably been the one person in our crew that looks more like Pocahontas than any female in our crew’s history.

Her family actually is from an island called Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

She came to us in 2010 and was appointed as the crew’s first officer in charge of our Facebook page.  She later became historian, sharing duties with Brenna for our computer-based sites.

I remember being very impressed with her at our first officer meeting for making suggestions on games and activities.

She eventually was elected vice president of program and dived into pretty much all that we did.

She hiked on the AT, went on and graduated from Kodiak and traveled with us to Florida Sea Base.

While her looks, athleticism and friendliness have always attracted attention in the crew, so has her hair.  Ever since she joined, in fact, I have heard comments from youth and adults who admired her locks.  At Sea Base, her hair even drew the attention of our captain, Capt. Hammer, who took time away from running the boat to work on her tangles and proper conditioning.  That’s when he wasn’t making bracelets, fishing or whipping up his own recipe for something.

Audrey was inducted into the Corps of Discovery.  She’s been recognized for recruiting others, for hiking many miles and for being among the top participants in our high adventures.

Along the way, she’s been noticed for her intelligence, her smiles and laughter and her willingness to take on any outdoor trek.

When it came time to name her, I asked Cyrus for suggestions.  How about has bad taste in movies? Or indecisive? He quipped.   He also volunteered that Audrey is very true to who she is and what she believes, as well as honest and hard working.

Native Americans generally selected males as leaders.  But there were exceptions.  Among the Lakota Sioux, one legendary figure was White Buffalo Calf Woman.  As the Sioux tell it, the Lakota were camped together and starving, so they sent out scouts to look for food.  Two of them came across White Buffalo Calf Woman, who startled them with her beauty, her dark eyes and long dark hair, dressed in white calfskin.  One of the men went to embrace her, desiring her to be his wife.  He was destroyed.  She told the other to return to camp and have the chiefs to prepare a feast for her.  She arrived later and delivered to them the sacred pipe, instructing the Lakota on the seven sacred rituals and telling women in the camp that what they were doing was every bit as important as what the men did.  She is a revered figure to this day, a symbol of both the importance of women and of the importance of protecting the land.

I tell this tale because I think of the Sioux when I think of Audrey.  And one part of her character that stands out the most.   A year ago last January, we were skiing and on our second day, Audrey went down a difficult slope, hit a slippery patch and fell.  When she did, most of the ligaments in one knee snapped.

Not only was this extremely painful, it meant certain surgery and a fairly long recovery.  She knew this because she had already had her other knee operated on.  I stood in the first aid lodge and watched the tears roll down her cheeks, and knew what would be going through her mind.  Because with this knee injury, she would no longer be able to travel with us to Montana.  She was among the group training to go on our trip to Glacier National Park and was friends with many of those going.

She was fitted with a cardboard splint and never complained that day or the next.  She underwent her surgery and is fine today.  Life is full of tough and sometimes unexpected bad breaks.  How you handle them speaks volumes of your character.  She eventually returned to regular crew activities and ran for office multiple times last year. She will graduate from Irmo High next week. And significantly, she will be one of our instructors for Kodiak this summer.

Among the Sioux, there is a name that is reserved for warriors and it is that name I am honored to bestow upon you tonight, Napayshni, which means strong and courageous.  Congratulations!

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