By Rebecca Rose
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - Dave Haley was honored with the Comanche Gap Medicine Man award Saturday during a ceremony that also featured a surprise announcement about the property where the event takes place.
For the past 33 years, the Comanche Gap Medicine Man group has met to name a Medicine Man, inspired by group founder Bill Alford's passion for Native American culture and rituals. Alford died in January 2011, but the tradition lives on with the surviving lineage of Medicine Men.
Steve Alford said his father was clearing brush for a picnic one day and was struck by the immense beauty of the area. The site eventually became home to the Comanche Gap Medicine Man group's annual naming ceremony.
"He wanted people to have a good time in Central Texas," said Steve Alford of his father's work to bring a museum, zoo and other activities to the location.
Now, the property will be sold to Harker Heights. Steve Alford said the 20 acres of lush, wooded land likely would be used by the city for a public park.
But the Medicine Men will be allowed to meet on the property for an additional 50 years, he said.
Following Alford's announcement, John Odom, who was named Medicine Man in 1998, presented Haley, a Harker Heights police officer, with the award. Odom praised Haley's tireless commitment to community service, including his involvement in the Blue Santa Program, which works to provide children in need with presents during the holiday season.
"Dave walks in clouds of wisdom ... and lives in harmony with nature and his fellow man," said Odom.
Odom said Haley was Bill Alford's idea of what a Medicine Man should be.
Haley replaced his old hat with a new one bearing a single, long feather - a symbol of his first year in the group. As Haley accepted his award, he said this was just the beginning of everything and thanked the tribal council.
"This is like a family," he said.
Each year, the group also bestows an additional feather on previous Medicine Men. During the ceremony, a long line of Medicine Men were gifted with their new feathers, including Odom, State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, Ken Watts, Harvey Bacon Jr., L.H. "Bud" Gower, FN Hood and Henry Mayer.
The men wore cowboy hats adorned with numerous feathers, a symbol of their long years in the group.
Steve Alford said his father would be proud to see the group today.
Contact Rebecca Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7548. Follow her on Twitter at KDHBusinessNews.