Métis, Indian culture at village: Dancing, singing part of a presentation with a spiritual messageThe Métis-Native American Indian Festival opened the Tatanka Festival and White Cloud’s Birthday celebration Thursday in the Frontier Village Amphitheater. Thursday’s morning presentation featured the Native American Indian culture of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in dances and songs, emceed by Verlyn Dubois. He said his people consider themselves as spiritual, using God and the Creator interchangeably and blending their Christian heritage with the traditional Ojibwe and Chippewa culture. The culture reflects that blending.
The Métis-Native American Indian Festival opened the Tatanka Festival and White Cloud’s Birthday celebration Thursday in the Frontier Village Amphitheater.
Thursday’s morning presentation featured the Native American Indian culture of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in dances and songs, emceed by Verlyn Dubois. He said his people consider themselves as spiritual, using God and the Creator interchangeably and blending their Christian heritage with the traditional Ojibwe and Chippewa culture. The culture reflects that blending.
Dubois’ daughter, Sheyanne, presented the jingle dance in a dress covered with tube-like bells. Dubois said it is a dance asking the Creator to heal.
“It is a petition to God for healing, for blessing,” he said.
Sheyanne danced to the singing of a circle of Chippewa men as they beat on the anishanabe drum. Anishanabe means first people, who became the Ojibwe and then the Chippewa. At 13, Sheyanne said, “I’ve been doing this dance all my life.”
Dubois spoke of the many years the government denied Indians the right to their culture. For decades, he said, it was illegal to be Native American Indian. He said, despite the restrictions, his people managed secretly to dance and sing their heritage.
“We weren’t allowed to pray or speak our language, but we found ways to keep our culture alive,” he said.
Rather than a performance, the dancing and singing are part of a presentation with a spiritual message. Scheduled at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day through Sunday, Dubois said each presentation will be different. Today and Saturday will include the Métis portion of the culture. Métis means mixed blood — that of French fur traders and Chippewa or Cree women. The music of the blended culture includes fiddling and jigging, which is a kind of round dance.
The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa is a diverse culture, said Cecilia Myron, who teaches the Ojibwe language at the Turtle Mountain Community College.
“We’re a multicultural reservation,” Myron said. “We speak Chippewa, Ojibwe, Mitchif (the Métis language), English and some even speak Lakota. As a culture we’re trying to build bridges through education.”
The Native American Indian dancing concluded with the Buffalo Dance. Derek Dubois wore 50 pounds of regalia including a buffalo head to perform the dance. His father, Verlyn, said it’s very rare to be a buffalo dancer. Derek, at 21, said he has been a buffalo dancer all his life.
“You must be gifted by the Creator to become a buffalo dancer,” Verlyn Dubois said. “The buffalo was sacred. It was essential to our people.”
And among Native American Indians of the Plains, the white buffalo is the most sacred. Verlyn Dubois told the audience that Jamestown has been very blessed as it “is holding one of the animals closest to God.”
Les Thomas, a member of the Turtle Mountain Tourism Association, said the Chippewa welcomes the opportunity to present its culture in Jamestown because of the white buffalo. In its herd, the National Buffalo Museum has three white buffalo. White Cloud was the first albino buffalo in the herd. Since then another was born to a brown buffalo and White Cloud gave birth to a third white buffalo.
“There’s no other place in the world where a white buffalo has given birth to another white buffalo,” Thomas said. “When white calves start to be born, it means the spirit of White Buffalo Calf Woman is returning. The Sioux legend is going full-circle now.”
Thomas spoke of the natural and other disasters besetting the world as the prelude to people learning to work together. The legend prophesies the sacred white buffalo returning one day to unite all races.
“We need to spread the word of the white buffalo around the world — it’s part of what the festival is explaining,” Thomas said. “The Creator has a reason for people to come together.”
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org