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Eagle Feather

Mike McGinnis (Traditional Dancer, Tsu Tina):   My grandfathers they said you never fool around with the feathers. You always look after it good, you know, make it straight, make it alive, just like youíre going to dance with it, take care of it, and take care of it, like that. Get it straightened out. Because it was in a suitcase too long, 52 hours, and going back to, I guess, the same way itís going to be so.

Boye Ladd:  Itís believed in the Indian world that for every feather thatís worn on top of the head by both the male or the female is a feather that was earned in battle or through years of service to our people.

The notching the color, the design of each feather usually signifies something that was earned in battle and  so every part of that kind of patriotism is expressed and shown through powwow.

MARVIN BURNETTE:  When we receive eagle feathers from the tribal council or elders in the council or in the tribe, itís  something that we earn by accomplishment: helping the people, the way of life, defending the warriors, defending the way of life even on foreign and domestic soil. So itís very important for Native people when we wear the eagle feathers to wear them in a very special way.

KEVIN HAYWAHE:  Growing up they never let me wear Eagle feathers until I was a man, until I did a feat of some kind.  I see a lot today kids wearing eagle feathers more than some of the men and they didnít earn the right to get that, you know, some of them just for the look of it, I think. Itís just not right, you know. I tell people that sometimes and some of them understand it and some just donít agree with it.


BOYE LADD:   Most all of competition dancers or professional dancers have to be up to date on the music and the change from one drum group to another because they all vary their styles. Now that there arenít that many war songs or wars being fought,  there are a lot of songs that basically are around social attitude, social change, a lot of the feelings that are expressed within the family themselves, maybe an affection for someone. Some of the young people in particular take some of the melodies from even some of our rap songs, some of our contemporary songs and apply it to music.

LETTING BEAVER  (Stoney Park, Stoney Tribe):  When you look at every race, they use the drum, thatís why today we call it ďheartbeat of a nationĒ, it  doesnít matter which nation it is, we all use the same drum but in a different form though.  Every human being that there is their heartbeat is right there.

COLE BEAVER (Stoney Park, Stoney Tribe):  My dad started us off. My whole familyís actually rodeo family and my dad  set us off on this way, so. Thatís what my dad told me. He said this drum is gonna take you a long way. Youíre going to be singing in front of a big crowd, he said, take it, keep going, donít quit and give respect to your drum.  Iím the drum-keeper and itís my job to keep all these guys in line, straight all the time.   Just to keep the boys on the edge I usually throw them a new song about 5 minutes before we sing it so they can sit there, sit tight and sing it out. Thatís the way I usually do it. They pick it up pretty good and itís becoming a habit, too, now, so. 

GREVES SNOW  (Stoney Park, Stoney Tribe):  Learn as you go. Weíve been on the trail for so long that everybody knows, you know, the song and all that, experience it you know

COLE BEAVER:  But I enjoy this life. Itís pretty good, you know and plus itís music, pumps you up. Yeah. Thatís what I like about it and making everybody dance, giving them a healing song and all that, doing all kinds of different kinds of songs. Itís a challenge when you do a different kind of a song* for me because I have to lead that song off.

COLLIN STONECHILD (Stoney Park, Stoney Tribe):  You sing for your long life, good health, you know, you sing for the people out there,  you know, you sing to the drum and itís a healing tool for everybody.  Itís a lifestyle to everybody. For instance, like a basketball team they travel city to city, itís a job to them but itís a lifestyle, too. Like weíre out powwowing every weekend, itís just a lifestyle, itís our culture.  I look it like Iíd rather be singing at a drum, you know, * traveling powwow to powwow than be drinking, you know, drinking around, you know, or getting into trouble, you know.

BRANDON DANIELS (Stoney Park, Stoney Tribe):  And I guess you can say we live on the road, we live on the trail, you know, heading different powwows, hosting here, competition there.  All that. When you add all that together itís just mainly having fun. Thatís about it. Having a good time.

HARLAN BEAVER (Stoney Park, Stoney Tribe):  I feel good make songs, make those people dance. I like medium speed and jivey ones, like tongue twisters, thatís what I like about it. Also while Iím playing  I feel good. I donít drink and I donít do drugs around the drum. I donít even do that.  I like to get down with it. Makes me feel good to be who I am.

JEREMY KING (Stoney Park, Stoney Tribe):  It makes me feel good to sit around a drum, get together with all my brothers here and  joke around and play jokes on each other , go see different places, go all over, meet new people. Youíre in for the girls.   These guys are here for the girls, half of them.

SAM SAULTEUX (Stoney Park, Stoney Tribe):  Itís a really beautiful thing to do -- powwow: sing, dance and mostly itís just being with my brothers going place to place.  And this drum itís really powerful. Itís two brothers there that make the sound and it makes  all our hearts beat as one, all our voices as one,  and it makes me feel good to sing, and itís a really good feeling to be singing with all my brothers.   Itís a really good feeling.


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Last modified: September 03, 2012