Tuesday, February 16, 2010

HUM 221: A glimpse of Potawatomi people today

Monday we learned about the "Trail of Death," a forced march during which a band of Potawatomi Indians passed through Springfield in 1838. For the rest of the story (well, for at least as much as we can cram into a 50-minute class period), we'll look at a couple of websites today. If nothing else, I want us all to come away from this course with a renewed sense that Native American cultures face challenges but are still vibrant today.

In response to my post on the forced march of the Potawatomi in 1838, a member of the Pokagon Band, a federally recognized tribe in Michigan, who identifies himself on line as "Pokagon Member" posted the following comment:
bohzo (hello)

I have and maintain a news site for the Potawatomi that might intrest you if you are looking for things regarding the "Trail of death."

Megwetch (Thank You)
David
He calls his blog "Native American Bode'wadmi: Pokagon Times" ... it is available at http://pokagon.blogspot.com/ and it offers a variety of information about the nine tribes of Potawatomi people that are now recognized by the governments of the United States and Canada.

So, David, if you happen to read this: Megwetch! I learned a lot from your website, and I think (hope!) my students will too.

We'll surf the website to get a feel for the variety of issues it treats, including boarding schools where Native students all too often were "educated" away from their heritage, and watch a video clip of a pow wow - a traditional dance contest - hosted last year by the Prairie Band of the Potawatomi Nation in Kansas (descended from the people who went through Springfield in the 1830s). If time permits, there's also an interesting 10-minute clip that explains how traditional Potawatomi youth workers teach children to make good life decisions about things like alcohol, sex and HIV in a decidedly non-traditional world.

Pow wows, the dance contests, are an important form of cultural expression for many Native Americans today. And the Pokagon Times blog's clip offers us a good introduction to them. Wisconsin's Forest County Potawatomi, another federally recognized band, have an excellent explanation of pow wows on their website. And we'll watch a very brief clip of the grand entry and veterans' fight song at a smaller 2007 Potawatomi Gathering pow wow in Forest County.

We will also look at the official website of the Prairie Band of the Potawatomi people and follow the link to the pages on their history and culture. When we look at the history of an Indian Nation, it's always a good idea to look at today's website and see what they're like today.

We can get a brief glimpse from three clips from YouTube.

Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation - Pow wow 2009 at Prairie Peoples Park (the rest of the Grand entry that was featured on Pokagon Member's blog). Following the vets are competitive dancers in Native regalia. Watch for the variety of costumes and dance steps as the elders, men's traditional and grass dancers, fancy dancers, women's traditional and jingle dancers (whose dresses are lined with jingles traditionally made of snuff cans), followed by more veterans, elders, spectators, children and a few guests of the dancers. The pow wow is a community event, and a dance like this in which everybody takes part is called an intertribal.



In the second, a "drum" called Midnite Express performs an Intertribal song at the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation powwow 2009. The singers gather around the drum and beat in unison. Note the dancers in the arena in the background.



In the third clip, the Prairie Band Powwow Men's Traditional Contest is shown briefly. Note the elaborate regalia and stylized dance steps.

22 comments:

Pete said...

1. Your response ...

2. Your background, taste, etc. ...

3. What do you find in the music and/or dancing that reminds you of anything in our (European-American, which of course means a lot of African-American too) culture?

Cait131 said...

1. I think this is kind of cool. I mean I know that I particularly don't do anything like this, but I think it's neat that they do perfrom these certain rituals, and they love performing them. They have a lot of fun along with believing certain things. These dances and performances look very important to them.

2. I don't have a certain background that goes along with this, but I think that it is very important and special to these people.

3. I think their music is very different from ours today. There might be some similarties when it comes to people dancing and singing, but the music style is something that you don't hear everyday.

Alex said...

1. I found the dances interesting. But it was kind of hard to understand what was going on.
2. I have been to powow before when I was on vacation in Canada. I was only 9 years old so I don't remember much. But I do remember the music and the dancing.
3. I think it is kind of comparable to our church ceremonies, but I can't think of anything else besides that.

Shakeria said...

i like it, it looks very family and community orriented.....

i always take more to the beat of music more than any other part and i really loved the beat of the drums.....

yes it reminds me of how the africans do they tribal dances and performances..etc.....

Kathleen said...

1. I liked it. I think it gives us a cool insight on their culture. It was really interesting.
2. I have no Native American background. The only Native American background in my family is my Aunt's husband. Even without any Native American in my history, I still think it's pretty cool.
3.I think the loud banging on the drums reminds me of the loud base drums in a lot of popular songs today. Some people put subs in thier cars to get that loud beating sound. Also the voices remind me of most preformers because they really got into it. It was like they were telling a story.

Jake Hill said...

I felt like the dance where kinda weird but cool. My backround is that im half cherokee and half sioux. And in my native dancing all we do is pop its nothing like they do.

Jessica said...

I think the pow wows are very interesting. I find that their way of being spiritual through music and dancing is very cool. I like the up-beat music that the play. Their music and dancing doesnt remind me of any other kinds of music, it is very unique and creative.

Chris Day said...

1. the dance was unique. i felt the music could have lyrics to it though.
2. I have a little background with the native american culture, so the rituals were familiar.
3. I found a relation with the music of the native american and african american and the beat to which they dance. Yet, there is a big difference in our cultures.

mikefleshman said...

1) I like the rythmic beat to the chanting and singing. But to be honest most of it sounds the same. I also like the idea that Native Americans do not punish their children.

2) I have no background in this type of music. It is very different from any kind of music that i listen to, but it entertains me.

3) The music reminds me of people on the streets playing drums for money. This would be like something you see in the big cities. It reminds me of a long drum solo.

Catey Rutschke said...

1. My response to the pow wows is that it is a spiritual ceremony that most Native Americans do that outsiders may not understand. Their certain lyrics and they way they dance may have certain meanings to them but from an outsiders point of view, we do not know what it means, it just looks like a bunch of dancing and a bunch of yelling.
2. I am mostly German with absolutely no native american in me so pow wows have no special meaning to me and do not fully understand what they are doing and what it means to them when they have these ceremonies.
3. In their dances they do a lot of yelling and jumping around, i guess some older adults may say that they see teens doing this stuff these days, they think our music is just a bunch of yelling and that when we dance we are just jumping around.

lena ater said...

The pow wow are very intence you get the sence of everyone belonging, and having a part of the cerimony.

I have always enjoyed learning about the Indian culture so this is very interseting to me.

Eveyone respects everybody and the music draws you in making you want to hear more, and wanting to come back to more pow wows.

Roman said...

I feel like the natives have different motives for their dance. i normally think of dance as entertainment and theirs as ceremonial. I do like the music and think it is neat to witness these ceremonies for the costumes sounds and intensity they have while performing. I saw a lot more differences than sameness in their dance compared to ours.

dave maziarz said...

1.) i think its really cool how this group of people is still in touch with there cultural backgound. its definately a very unique ceremony.
2.) this really doesnt fall into the category of something i would generally listen to or watch.
3.) this reminds me of people who today stand on the side of the road in big cities and play their instrument

brok said...

1.It was ok, its not something I would listen to everyday though.

2.I tend to give everything a shot at least once and then ill decide if i like it or not after listening to it.

3.There are many different types of dancing in our culture and some of the basic moves could have come from this.

Brad Selvaggio said...

1. The different kinds of dances were very traditional and unqiue. If they started putting words in the dances it might be better.
2.i dont have any background of the indians and there dances. i like the watch the dances though.
3.Watching the dances and listening to the music reminds me of other tribes that do that.

Michael Hayes said...

1) I liked the dancing. It was very ritualistic and rhythmic. You can tell the people enjoy it because they get dressed up and seem to have a fun time at the pow wows.
2) I think i liked the dances because I have always enjoyed a good drums solo in any type of music. I find the drums to be the backbone of any musical piece.
3) A lot of the moves and drums remind he of raggae music. The beats and dancing just sems very similar.

Michael D. said...

1. I thougtht the music and dancing were both very interesting and i like the drumming. You could see that the Native Americans used dance to get the whole community involved and it was spirtual as well as entertaining.
2. I like music that has a good beat to it and the drumming had a nice beat so I enjoyed it.
3. I guess it could be similar to clubs were there is a good beat and people dance to it. But clubs are more about entertainment and dont really have the deep spirtual meaning as Native American dancing and singing.

Tom said...

1. i felt that the dance was unique. i felt the music could have lyrics to it though.
2. I dont have much background with the native american culture, so the rituals were familiar.
3. I found a relation with the music of the native american and african american and the beat to which they dance. Yet, there is a big difference in our cultures.

Tara Proctor said...

I like Native American dances. I think they are interesting to watch. I think it's cool how they can express their native culture through song and dance.
I have worked on a Native American reservation for a week a few summers ago. It was in Manderson, South Dakota with the Lakota Indians. I got to experience their culture while I was there. I did not get to see a pow wow like we saw in class.

The music is very rhythmic and has a nice flow to it. Their chanting also has a flow to it.

Lucas Baugher said...

1. The dances were somewhat interesting. It is definately something I am not accustomed to seeing. It looks to me like these Indians are holding true to their ancestors in all of the rituals they do. They remember what their forefathers did and they respect them.
2. My background has nothing to do with these Indian dances but I do respect them. They are from a different culture than I am, so its hard from me to understand what all these dances mean to them.
3. In all of the dances, there seemed to be a common beat. Everybody was going with the flow and they were all participating. This is common in todays music culture as well.

logan eader said...

1. my first reponse was that it was really loud, and that it scared me. It was definitely not typical behavior to me.

2. i reacted like this because i have been raised to repect other people and not to disturb them and loud noise would be one example of a disturbance. However, i understand that it is tradition among Native American tribes and i still respect their culture.

3. i couldnt recognize any simularities between our current culture music and dance taste. this tradition of the Native Americans is very unique.

Josh said...

The dances were entertaining and interesting but i was not sure exactly what was going on. I'm not really sure what my background is. The only similarity I found is that people enjoy dancing to both kinds of music.