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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 13, 2003 - Issue 102


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Lumbee Performer Jana Walks Her Talk, Stresses Education to Youth

by T'cha-Mi'iko - Sho-Ban News
credits: photos and images courtesy of JanaNation

JanaBOISE — Jana is a member of the Lumbee Tribe, lives in North Carolina and has been entertaining professionally for seven years.

She is 25, single and as she said to a question from her fans. "No I'm not with anyone right now." Jana is busy building her career, which takes up most of her time.

Jana comes from a musical family. She started singing when she was three and her brother and father both are drummers and singers. Although the music industry was not her first choice. She was attending, a university in North Carolina studying pre-med. She was thinking of becoming a physician.

But as things happen she also likes to sing. A music producer asked her to do back up song tracks for another well-known singer. But when the producer heard her sing, he signed her instead of the original singer.

About three years ago Jana, incorporated dance choreography into her performance as a pop singer and her audience appeal sky rocketed. She has not made any CDs yet, but she is working on one for future distribution.

"I try to incorporate Native moves into my routine as much as possible and at times I bring in Native American dancers for my shows. Here at Boise State University, it is not possible due to the small stage area I have to work with," she said.

She is working on a movie that will be filmed in Mexico titled, "Pocket Angel" where she plays the part of the angel. It is modeled from the "Touched by an Angel" series but done in a Native American fashion.

"It will model faith, family and testing your faith," she said. She is considering a move into movie production.

During her presentation to tribal youth, she talked about her growing up in an urban area, where she knew she was different but didn't have many problems with the community. She learned early to stand up for herself and continues to do so not only for herself but for her people, the Native Americans.

When asked why she had white girls dancing with her, she came back with, "Its not a problem for me, is there an issue?" At one time she had her dancers wear wigs, but now they dance as who they are.

Jana and kidsStephan Galfas her manager, also a Lumbee tribal member said that Jana walks her talk and has from the beginning. She started a special program for youth named "Jana's Kids." "She funds it entirely on her own refusing assistance from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service, which have shown interest in it. Her belief is that she doesn't want anything to take it and ruin it like so many good programs have been damaged in the past. No thanks she will pay for it herself."

Her dancers, who also sing, are Alexandria Sawyer and Tabatha Arocho say that Jana is a joy to work with. They have a lot of respect for her in such a difficult profession.

Bob Weber, retired firefighter and video production manager said, "Where does she get so much energy. I get tired from just watching her dance." He and his partner were filming the youth program activities and the Jana concert for the ICWA organizers.

Jana told the youth, "Success might not be immediate, but your hard work may have an impact later in life. You have to have commitment, put some effort into it."

This is a hard business, especially for a Native American woman, but I believe that I can make a difference in people's lives by showing them that anyone can get ahead.

Jana's logoShe commented on the "crabs in the bucket story." She said, "Oh yes, there have been Indians who have tried to pull me down. But I don't let them."

She looked over the assembled youth and told them, "People don't realize how special you are. There are so few of us in the world. You have to have respect for other people and have pride in who you are."

"Education is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. Then set your goals, have ambition, adjust your attitude, continue with school and never forget your cultural integrity."

The night before, Jana had a concert for anyone who wished to attend. Tribal youth crowded the stage and adults either mingled with them or sat toward the back of the room and rode herd on the tiny children playing together in a clear spot on the carpet.

Jana and her dancers wore bright outfits daringly cut to show off as much as they covered.

Everyone cheered for the entertainers and waved arms and hands in the air and enjoyed the attention they got when Jana looked at them and talked between songs as she caught her breath.

Jana with kids at LCOWhen the concert ended, several of the Sho-Ban High School student begged for a group photo of them with Hovia Edwards, Robert "Tree' Cody and Jana. How that got started was when the students saw the flutists sitting quietly in a shadowed area near the stage. The youths charged, and surrounded the smiling and laughing couple then began calling for Jana to get in the action.

She was busy wiping off the perspiration and looked around at all the waving excited youths then walked over to join them. It became clear that Tree and Jana are long time friends. Sitting down, Tree, who is close to seven feet tall, was still about the same height as Jana standing beside him.

Jana has a web site, it is. and it holds information on her "Jana's Kids" program plus many interesting things about her including photos.

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