Honoring tribal tradition
While this weekend’s seventh annual Rock, Rattle & Drum Pow Wow America carries the theme, “Healing Her Spirit,” in reference to the fact the United States of America was created on land inhabited by Native Americans, the fund-raiser that takes place Aug. 11 and 12 at Wirtes Farm, at the base of Mount Greylock in Lanesboro or at Mount Greylock Regional High in Williamstown in the event of rain, will beat out a mood of family fun.
The Pow Wow, a traditional gathering during which Native Americans celebrate and renew their culture, will feature performances by Joseph FireCrow, Grammy and Native American Music Award-winning Native American flutist, Arvel Bird, Native American Music Award -winning violinist and flute player known as “Lord of the Strings” for combining Celtic and Native American traditions, and Danza Azteca, an Aztec dance group Danza, among other performers.
“This form of celebration has been around for centuries on this continent,” said FireCrow, of Winsted, Conn.
The event will feature authentic American Indian dancing, drumming and tribal regalia. Native Americans, ranging in age from toddlers to elders, will dance in several different styles wearing traditional and contemporary regalia. Drum groups will provide vocal and rhythmic accompaniment for the dancers.
A variety of American Indian culture will be represented through vendor exhibits of arts, crafts, music, contemporary and traditional foods and information on social and political issues that currently challenge local, regional and national American Indian communities.
American Indian storytellers will share old native stories.
“It’s part of our culture and definitely part of our heritage to have these celebrations,” said FireCrow of Pow Wows.
“They are an opportunity to come together and celebrate life and have a good time.”
The 65th Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of Pittsfield will honor veterans during the Grand Entry procession of performers and guests Aug. 11 and 12 at 1 p.m.
Janet LaBreck, commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, will be recognized the 2012 Rock, Rattle & Drum honoree for her work with her constituents on Aug. 11 at 3 p.m.
The Pittsfield native lost her vision by the age of 10. As an ambassador for more than 35,000 legally blind residents, she has spearheaded campaigns to increase employment opportunities for the blind.
“Every year we honor a specific profession or special needs population,” said Fidel D. Moreno, co-director of Healing Winds, the Lanesboro-based American Indian cultural and educational non-profit organization that produces the event.
The organization is currently researching Route 7 as a Mohican and Algonquin Heritage Trail.
“It goes in line with the cultural tradition of honoring those people who go above and beyond providing a service and compassion in action for a community.”
There will be a New England Eye Mobile Clinic with services provided at no cost to all attendees who want a screening by an eye doctor.
On Aug. 11 at 3 p.m., there will be a traditional Native American devotion honoring the upcoming canonization of the first Native American saint, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, known as Lily of the Mohawks.
She was born in 1656 to a Mohawk father and an Algonquin-Christian mother in a Mohawk village in what is now Auriesville, N.Y. She will be canonized— declared a saint — on Oct. 21.
“For the Catholic Church to acknowledge a Native American saint is a very positive sign of honoring that culture,” said Moreno, who has Native American and Mexican heritage.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is in the process of reopening the Chapel of the North American Martyrs in Lanesboro, and incorporating a shrine to Tekakwitha on the site.
The site of the Pow Wow is significant as Mount Greylock, according to legend, was sacred to the Mohicans and is named after Chief Greylock who was born in what is now Westfield, and into a tribe that was part of a confederacy that included the Mohican and Abenacki of Central Massachusetts.
Natives and non-Natives alike are encouraged to attend this weekend’s Pow Wow. There is free admission for persons who are blind and show their Massachusetts Commission for the Blind registration or related identification card at the entrance gate.
The music and the people “bring a good medicine to the event,” flutist FireCrow said.
Susan Jameson, who co directs Healing Winds with Moreno, said the event’s healing theme highlights the need for the United States to address what she called “the atrocities this country was built on”— the relocation and mass killing of Native Americans and the breaking of treaties with them.
She would like the U.S. government to “take responsibility for what we did,” apologize to the Native American peoples, ask for forgiveness and conduct a reconciliation ceremony “so we can really move toward freedom.”
In 2010, President Barack Obama endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, reversing a previous U.S. vote against it.
In June, the U.S. justice and interior departments announced a $1 billion settlement over nearly 56 million acres of Indian land held in trust by Washington but exploited by commercial interests for timber, farming, mining and other uses with little benefit to the tribes.
In May, a United Nations factfinder met with tribes in seven states on reservations and in urban areas on a 12-day tour and called for the United States to restore tribal lands, including the Black Hills of South Dakota, site of Mount Rushmore.
In 1887, some 154 million acres was said to be Indian land. Federal legislation, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, helped shrink that to some 48 million acres 50 years later.
SOURCE: Article From http://www.masslive.com
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Note of White Wolf : This is a good visual, but I think this video was done in a studio. I don't think the Sioux warriors would show a sacred ghost dance as a spectacle. Also there is a mistake on this video uploader which called the ragalia a costume. This is not the correct term for it.