“And Then I Found Out He Was An Indian”
Right now I got Rumble, The Indians Who Rocked the World playing on Netflix. My son reads on the screen “Native Americans” and hears the riff, and the documentary has my seven year old’s attention. This delights my heart and makes my soul sing. My son is Native, and if I was on a different role, he would be too. This displeases my heart and crushes my soul. So what is a mother to do in order to preserve her race? To keep the souls’ of her ancestors alive? She makes sure her children learn these stories and experiences the culture while there are still seeds being planted. We just got back from our reservation in the Midwest. When I think of what I’ll leave behind for future generations, I hope it’s the stories of the past and present with a hope for the future.
Indigenous Music And Arts Festival
On July 23 and 24, The Ganondagan is hosting an Indigenous Music and Arts Festival. My son will be eight in August and I’ve told him his whole life that he is a rock star. Anytime I had Led Zeppelin, Guns N Roses, and even worship music, my son would go crazy in my belly! He has always loved to move, and he still does.
Our family has attended a couple of events at the Ganondagan now over the last several months and we are really looking forward to this one. Our last visit included a lesson in healing and storytelling through hoop dancing. In hindsight, I believe that visit was a rite of passage.
Indigenous Roots And Traditions
Yesterday we celebrated my grandmother’s 86th birthday. She is no longer with us however her impact is intergenerational. She was born on our reservation in Reserve Kansas in the same house her siblings were born in. Her father was an Ioway and Otoe Indian and her mother was Sac and Fox.
My mother as a little girl had to attend and dance in powwows. She shared with me that she hated it because it was always in the summer and she had to wear deerskin dresses. As she grew up, she faced discrimination and ridicule for being Native. So by the time she had me, she was further removed from the culture she was born into and more part of a culture that “accepted” her.
I was born in the Midwest, but it wasn’t long before our family moved to the East. Although we would travel back and visit regularly, the cultural influence I received came from a predominantly white community where my graduating class was less than 100 students. I too was a subject of racism. At school children mocked my ancestors and gave me nicknames like Squatting Bull and Pocahontas. I did not care to be Native, nor did I want to learn about my heritage. For safety, I assimilated.
The Healing Journey
Now as an adult, I am on a healing journey. Healing from intergenerational trauma, and healing from my own hurts, habits and hangups. Part of this healing journey is immersing myself into the parts of me I denied for so long. Immersing myself into the culture of my ancestors, asking questions, participating in Native traditions, listening to stories and sharing my own. The biggest catalyst for this are my children and knowing that if I don’t take a stand now to preserve our heritage, the lineage of my people stops at me. It’s important my children are aware and active in this healing process, because it’s healing for them too, they just don’t comprehend that yet. I hope in their lifetime, they see the revival that our people have so long been laboring and praying for.
Attending an Indigenous Music and Arts Festival is more than just enjoying the sound, sight, and smell of Native people. It’s about restoring what has been lost, educating ourselves and others, sharing our truth about our history, our present and our hope for the future. It’s about staying connected to our family, expressing our pain and our joy, and bringing awareness to the works of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
I cannot wait to attend this event with my children. I want them to feel free to express their most authentic selves, to share with others about who they are and where they come from, and learn about what it’s going to take in their lifetime to keep our people and stories alive.
Coming Full Circle
When we attended the teachings of hoop dancing and storytelling, it wasn’t a coincidence that we walked in right at the moment they were looking for volunteers to hoop dance. It was a divine appointment. What an amazing experience to have my mother watch her daughter and grandson dance to the beat of the drum in which she had done 60 years ago. Like the hoop, this story comes full circle and through this experience and sharing this story, there is healing and restoration.
Learn how to hoop dance with Variant Adventures
Go The The Festival
If you have not attended an Indigenous festival of any kind, I highly recommend finding one near you and going with an open mind and heart. If you’re in the upstate NY area on July 23 and 24, please make sure to plan on spending some time at the Ganondagan, located in Victor NY at 7000 County Road. The Indigenous Music and Arts Festival is from 10am to 5pm and is free!
The website describes the event as follows:
After a two-year hiatus Ganondagan’s Indigenous Music & Arts Festival is returning Saturday and Sunday, July 23 – 24, 2022. For this year only, our Indigenous Music & Arts Festival will be FREE for everyone! The event showcases Haudenosaunee and Indigenous cultures through dance, music, storytelling, authentic craft demonstrations, a Native American Arts Market, a Family Discovery Tent, raffles, guided trail walks, gallery tours, food, and more.
This summer’s event headlines a return appearance of Indigenous blues performers Twice As Good, and Native American flute player, singer/songwriter Shelley Morningsong (Northern Cheyenne), joined by her husband dancer/drummer/storyteller, Fabian Fontenelle (Zuni/Omaha). Crowd favorite, Allegany River Dancers will be back to demonstrate Iroquois Social Dancing on the main stage.
Watch Rumble Too
Rumble is also an excellent film. If you have access to Netflix, invest a couple hours of your life watching, listening, and soaking in the message. Then get up and dance!