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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 28, 2001 - Issue 41


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Colorful Festivity Draws Huge Crowd


By Jennifer Perez Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer-July 15, 2001


Tribune photo by Olivia Nisbet

BROWNING, MT -- This year's North American Indian Days is the largest ever in its 50 year history.

The celebration, which brings thousands of people together to share in the song and dance of the powwow, the drama of the rodeo and the fun of the parade, will wrap up late tonight as the powwow winds down.

"That's why they call it North American Indian Days, because it's one of the biggest powwow's in the country," said Loren Young Running Crane, arena director. People come from all over the world to participate and to watch.

There are between 600 to 700 registered dancers competing in the traditional, chicken dance, jingle dress, fancy, grass dance and buckskin categories.

Along with the contest dances, many families sponsor dancing specials, giveaways and naming ceremonies during the powwow.

Saturday morning's parade down Main Street lasted more than an hour, and showcased more than 300 people riding horses, along with drum groups, country music groups, floats and powwow royalty.

The grand entry Saturday afternoon was led by the Blackfeet Warrior's Society honor guard and included elders, Montana's governor and members of the Montana Army National Guard. The White Feather drum group sang the Canadian Flag Song and the Starr School of Browning sang the American Flag Song.

The host drums are the Black Lodge Singers of White Swan, Wash., and the White Fish Jr. Singers of Canada.

Twenty-five other drums are competing for the $6,400 in award money, including well-known drum groups like The Boyz, Bannik Boys, White Feather, Southern Cree and Young Grey Horse.

The Young Grey Horse drum group began singing about eight years ago, and consists of several young men who are all friends and relatives.

"It's fun and we grew up with it," said one of the members, Everett Armstrong, 22, a Blackfeet. "There is not a lot of options for us around here; it's something we do besides going out and doing drugs and alcohol."

The Young Grey Horse drum group has traveled to 11 states, Canada and France to sing their songs, and this year have already traveled to four states on the summer powwow trail.

Saturday afternoon they sang the Greenwood Burner Society Song and the Blackfeet Warrior's Song, and were joined by guest singers, including, Chief Earl Old Person, who also was the master of ceremonies at the powwow.

Cherokee rap artist and actor Litefoot gave a welcoming speech in the middle of the dance floor. Litefoot told the audience, "Most importantly, I know why this Creator put me on this Earth: to make a difference for some young people."

If a young Cherokee man from Oklahoma can find his way into Hollywood, then anyone can, he said, as he drew applause throughout his address and after his song.

Gov. Judy Martz gave an emotional welcome as she said, "There are no words to describe this; this is life-changing."

"I'm blessed to be here with a group of people holding onto their culture.

"I will return, and you can bet on that," Martz said.

The Blackfeet tribes are one of the first tribes to start an Indian Days celebrations, said Curly Bear Wagner, a Blackfeet tribal cultural adviser.

The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act gave American Indians their own way of life and religion back, Wagner said, adding that "this is how powwow's came about."

"Our culture is coming back in a good way," he said. "This brings our whole reservation together and allows our neighbors from other tribes to compete in dance competition."

North American Indian Days is a time to gather and meet new and old friends and for the gathering of the nations, Wagner said.

As long as Blackfeet tribal councilman Hugh Monroe can remember, Indian Days has always been here. "Even as a little kid, I remember camping here," he said.

Members of the Amedd Montana Army National Guard are holding a health fair at the powwow grounds for cholestoral and blood pressure checks and a health-risk analysis.

 Maps by Travel

Blackfeet Indian Nation Official Site
The Blackfeet, once referred to as "Lords of the Plains," continue to take part in traditional and contemporary ways of life. Although history and culture have both mandated and allowed change, the Blackfoot Confederacy has withstood the challenge of living in a world that sometimes conflicts with itself and some of its people have been able to maintain their true identity, without getting into the blood-degree issues, which are another way of creating division among the people.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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