How I Became a Jingle Dress Dancer

Photo Credit Ozaawaa Paypompee
Okima poses for her sister over winter in her new jingle dress (Photo Credit: Ozaawaa Paypompee)

By: Okima Paypompee

When I was nine years old, I decided to learn how to dance pow-wow. I saw a lot of people around me dance and it made me feel happy inside, but I was so shy. I asked my mom if could ever do that too and she said it was up to me and my own decision.

About a year later, determined to have my own, at a pow wow, I asked a man if I could purchase  this beautiful blue and pink fancy shawl dress. He told me it was $200 but I did not have that amount. Although, after some discussion with his wife and my dad, he agreed to trade with my dad his painting of a wolf and the moon.

I was so excited. I began teaching myself, whether through youtube videos or focusing live when women and girls danced. Fancy Shawl dancing, a highlight in pow wow competitions, is considered a reflection of a butterfly as the girl or women moves her ‘wingspan’ and feet lightly. It takes so much foot and arm coordination. Ever since I started dancing, I fell in love with it.

For years, I travelled with my family to pow wows, competing, receiving from fourth place to second place. Delighted for that moment, I felt my years of practice was paying off  when I received that second place win in the 2016 Grassy Narrows pow wow.

But, I didn’t want to just stop there. I wanted to keep learning. I wanted to dance jingle dress as well.  I loved the colours, the presentation, and the sounds of the cones jingling together. When I danced fancy shawl, I was still so shy, worried what others think. But I didn’t want to be shy anymore.

On my own, I began practicing the dance, preparing myself for the jingle dress dance. I began asking around of where I could purchase or have a jingle dress made for me but the costs were too high for me.

Then, on the first day of Shawendaason’s first annual cultural camp in October, Rolanda Wilson happened to announce she was selling a jingle dress she made herself. I went over to ask her and I was delighted to be able to purchase this beautiful blue, orange, yellow, green and pink dress with copper jingles.

I was so excited, so proud to be able to purchase it with my own money I saved. Rolanda suggested I dance with it at the end of the camp’s pow wow at the Naotkamegwanning roundhouse. Learning about Naotkamegwanning’s origin to the jingle dress, discussed at the camp made me even more excited to have this dress of my own. After the grand entry, I felt the feelings of shyness leave me, dancing counterclockwise beside the people I knew.

Being a jingle dress dancer means a lot to me because I love showing the skills I have learned. From now on, I want to show others how proud I am.

Like with learning fancy shawl and now jingle dress, I want to show my family and friends that I can learn on my own.

 

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Whitefish Bay youth powerfully demonstrate musical skills and talents

 

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Natalie Copenace-Kelly, 14 of nearby Onigaming First Nation, sings cover of “Beautiful Thing” by Grace Vanderwaal (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

Live performances and movie screening at Netaawgonebiik Health Centre captivates audience.

By: Damon Hunter

The once quiet healing room of the Netaawgonebiik Health Centre had transformed into a flashing sequence of revolving lights and was cheerfully occupied by an applauding crowd this past Sunday, January 20.

“It was such a good show. I enjoyed it and I’m going to watch the show again,” said Leila Paypompee who brought along her children.“That film really inspired me. My perspective changed on music and history”.

The aforementioned show in question is Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World. The internationally award-winning film had garnered the attention of the community journalism trainer Karli Zschogner and willed her to initiate a screening here in Whitefish Bay, along with the opportunity to host a few debut performances from local musicians.

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Hanisha Singer Teddy Copenace performs opening drum songs to the audience of 30. (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

Teddy Copenace of Naotkamegwanning’s Hanisha Singers elevated the room’s spirituality with his strong vocals and hide drum. Second to perform was Natalie Copenace-Kelly, 14. Utilizing her self-taught ukulele skills, she sang a powerful cover of “Beautiful Thing” by Grace Vanderwaal.

“[I] was hecka scared but I felt better afterwards,” said Natalie. “That’s why I like doing it, because I feel so much better after it.”

Following was Connor Kakeeway’s expertly played two piano performances, both of which were self-taught by the 17 year old multi-instrumentalist only three years ago he said. He played his pieces ‘The Wind Palace’ and ‘The Night Before July’. All musical performances had generated great applause from the crowd.

Connor Kakeeway - credit - Karli Zschogner
Connor Kakeeway performs one of his two original pieces ‘The Night Before July’ he says inspired by a Japanese exchange student. (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

“I really enjoyed the talent of our young people. Showcasing talent and having a platform for them is definitely needed,” said Rhonda White, 7th grade teacher at Baibombeh School.

Rumble, named after the 1958 influential rock and roll anthem by Shawnee Link Wray, reveals the unrecognized Indigenous contribution to several genres of music across history. The influential lives of these people wowed viewers as their background was not commonly known trivia.

Simple folk music was soon electric guitars and thrashing whips of dyed hair. The film included the backgrounds of Jimi Hendrix, Ozzy Osbourne, Buffy Sainte-Marie, swing’s Mildred Bailey and The Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo.

“The movie was really interesting. I’m a big music lover,” said guitar playing Brody Allen of Onigaming First Nation. “[I] never knew how much influence indigenous peoples had on music.”

The final set of musical performances occurred subsequently to the film opening with Natalie and then Connor with a second original piece. Closing the evening was the debut of the 19 year old, Cayne Kakeeway. Accompanied by community member Glen White on guitar and Connor on keyboard organ, Cayne rapped his own composition of self-written lyrics.

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Naotkamegwanning community member Cayne Kakeeway debuts his first original rap and mixed beats supported by brother Connor Kakeeway on organ and Glen White on bass. (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

The event had been brought to the attention of renowned guitarist, Stevie Salas. Salas has worked among the more larger bands of the rock genre, most notably Hardware. He has also collaborated with music giants such as Justin Timberlake, Mick Jagger, and Rod Stewart.

Both Salas and Tim Johnson, Executive Producers of the film, agreed to answer community gathered questions following the event through Naotkamegwanning Mazina’igan. These will be answered in our next issue.

SCREECH! AGH! GROWLL! Traditional storytelling through a graphic novel

By: Landon Joseph

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An example of what the graphic novel looks like inside (Photo credit: Carter Nash)

I recommend the graphic novel Eagle Girl  to other students because it’s about shapeshifting.

Shapeshifting is when a human transforms into a creature. They might look or act like the creature. Shapeshifting is important to many first nation cultures.

The story takes place in the plateau region in western Canada and the United States. The two students in the book I read in grade seven, Shay Feather and Kyle Wolf, find out that they can shapeshift. After meeting Kyle, Shay had a dream about an eagle and a wolf who had Kyle’s eyes.

Shay asked why she felt annoyed and felt a zap of electricity when she touched Kyle, the new boy in town. Her mom told her about her family history of shapeshifting into a eagle and about her family feud between the wolf and the eagle.

When Shay and Kyle confronted each other again, and turned into a wolf and an eagle, somebody got hurt. They realized they should stop fighting.

“Whatever happened long ago between our families is no business of ours. This feud needs to stop right here and now….. With us!,” said Shay.

The main conflict was when Shay and Kyle were fighting in the woods.

I loved the book  for its storyline about shapeshifting. I also liked it because of the art work and the animals.

The book is by Robert Cutting, under Turtle Island Voices, which is a series of 30 levelled readers designed to foster awareness and understanding of Aboriginal cultures for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, and was published by Pearson Canada.

The following story has been re-drafted one-on-one with journalism trainer.

Snap, Crackle, Pop! Wild Rice Harvesting at Cultural Camp at Whitefish Bay

Elders and youth come together for a three-day cultural knowledge sharing camp at Naotkamegwanning Roundhouse

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Kelly Kavanaugh watches a child stir wild rice (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenace)

By: Carter Nash, West Ranville, Jaryn Joseph, Arianna Jack

The sound of drumming, the smell of smoke, the scraping of rock, and the popping of wild rice were sights and sounds of pride at the Naotkamegwanning roundhouse.

Dylan Jennings was one of many cultural trainers parching or harvesting  wild rice at the first annual Shawendaasowin Cultural Camp held on October 23-25, 2018.

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Dylan Jennings makes a traditional handheld drum (Photo Credit: Virginia Loon)

Jennings, or Maskode Bizhikiins, (Little Buffalo) of  Bad River Band of Lake Superior says he started harvesting as a young person.  “I was probably 10 or 11 when I went out harvesting with my cousin,” he explained.  His grandma, aunties and uncles taught him how to harvest manoomin.

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Youth stirring wild rice (Photo Credit: Virginia Loon)

As part of his identity as Anishinaabe, he said, “Harvesting connects everything in creation.”   He remembers important virtues such as patience, respect and love.

“Harvesting wild rice is a lot of work, but necessary,” said Jennings.  “It makes us hard and honest workers when we remember how to do things the old way. It also helps to keep us grounded and humble.”

Jazlyn Copenance
Karli Zschogner, journalism trainer stirring wild rice (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenance)

Jennings said he enjoyed the dialogue between the young people and elders. “It was invaluable to hear the experiences of the elders and the way they used to harvest and live.”

He said he enjoyed being in the community and sharing his knowledge. He was happy that Shawendaasowin invited him.  “The community is truly blessed with so many great teachers, young people and knowledgeable elders,” said Jennings.

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Elder Evelyn Tom scraping deer hide (Photo Credit: Virginia Loon)

The cultural camp involved people from in and out of the community, including students from Kenora’s Beaver Brae Secondary School.

Other cultural workshop activities included community art, tikinagan baby carrier making, deer harvesting and hide scraping, ribbon skirt making and soapstone carving. Daily feasts followed.  A traditional powwow closed the event.

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Young participants take part in soapstone carving (Photo Credit: Brayden Nash)

Carmen Bird, or Giizhibabenacesiik of the Sturgeon Clan, is Director of Services for Shawendaasowin Child and Family Services. “We don’t usually see cultural activity event opportunities in our community, so this is one of the things we were able to bring forward because of funding that we have received,” she said.

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The smiles of generations with Carmen Bird (right) (Photo Credit: Ocean Sky Tom)

The idea for this cultural camp came from the Jordan’s Principle Initiative. Jordan River Anderson was a young Cree boy from Norway House, Manitoba who didn’t get the service that he required and he had to be away from home to receive medical care.  He had to stay in a hospital, and while there, he passed away while the provincial and federal governments argued over who should take responsibility for his costs and didn’t speed up any process for him to be at home where he should have been.

Scraping deer hide (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenance)
Scraping deer hide (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenance)

Funding from Jordan’s Principle is to provide students, youth and children access to required services at home. The cultural camp fell into this category.

Bird believes it is important to retain cultural teachings and traditions from elders within the community.  “We can come together once in a while with educators, our skilled people, the ones who have talents, our organizations and our elders.”

She said Shawendaasowin plans to host future cultural camps.

Roland White
Cultural Camp Pow Wow (Photo Credit: Roland White)

Noatkamewanning Hanisha Singers take a national stage in supporting families of missing and murdered

People of all ages shared a space of healing through a red jingle dress pow wow held in Winnipeg followed the five-day MMIW Inquiry.

By: Roland White

Families could feel the powerful shivers down their spine as Teddy Copenace solo lamenting song to missing and murdered indigenous women. The Red Jingle Dress pow wow, dedicated to the tragic missing and murdered women and men, was held at Winnipeg’s Lavallee School October 6.

“In’de dabajiitoon gi-nagamowan. (I sing from the heart.) Niminwendan apane gi-nagamowan owe nagamon (I feel good every time I sing this song.)”, says Copenace.

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Teddy Copenace, Leslie Copenace and Tommy Hunter (Photo Credit: Roland White)

Copenace says him and the rest of the Hanisha Singers volunteered to come to this event to help honour and support families in the healing process.

He describes the particular song, “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women” on the groups titled album ‘Remembering & Honouring Our Lost and Stolen Sisters’ before he sings. Woke up crying, he says it came to him as a dream of a girl who was in distress and trying to reach out to him but he was unable to help her.

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Red Jingle Dress Dancers (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

He explains his wife told him to go outside a make a fire and put tobacco down. While outside, the wind blew and he heard a voice say, “ogimaa- ikwe.” Afterwards he put down tobacco, he heard the leaves rustling like jingles and a voice saying again, “ Okijiichidaa-ikwe  was the one you were dreaming of.”

Desirae Paypompee was one of the red jingle dress dancers that came to participate in the pow-wow. Currently living in Winnipeg, she is originally from Naotkamegwannng First Nation.

Desirae Paypompee
Desirae Paypompee, originally from Naotkamegwanning First Nation, joined as a jingle dress dancer and the Winnipeg pow wow. (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

She says it was a pleasant surprise to see her community members partake in the event.

“It was very healing,” she says. “It made me feel apart of something big.”

She says she feels responsible for educating her son about respect. She says she believes that like the Orange Shirt Day movement, youth and adults should be educated about this horror.

“I do have relatives who have lost their loved ones and I also have friends within the city who have lost loved ones also,” she says.

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Jingle Dress Dancers dance to help heal the pain (Photo Credit: Roland White)

The organizers including Walking Little Bear Candace Arrow expressed gratitude to the Hanisha Singers for dedicating their time and energy in attending the MMIW pow-wow.

She says she started planning this event in February for a space for healing and unity for the affected families. She says the process ended up something much more.

“It kept me clean, it kept me driven and kept me focused” says Arrow.

Organizer Candace Arrow watching female drum group
Organizer Walking Little Bear Candace Arrow watches female drum group (Photo Credit: Roland White)

She says has experienced both sides, being a supporter for children and youth at Red River College, and as a victim and survivor.

“I was nearly taken. I was 14. I was lured by alcohol and the man took me to the river,” she says. “Who knows what he could of done with me. I jumped out of the moving car.”

She was getting very emotional and teary eyed.

She says out of principle, she kept her budget costs below the small missing persons rewards offered for finding missing indigenous girls.

She says she was overwhelmed by the large turn out, raffle and food contributions and considers having it next year.

“If I do have it next year, it’s going to be in every province,” she laughs.

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Naotkamegwanning youth learn respect to wildlife

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Carter Nash cutting up meat (Photo Credit: Kelsi Blackhawk)

By: Ocean Sky Tom

Students at Baibombeh Anishinaabe School got their hands all bloody last Thursday October 4 .

For Grade 7 and 8 Ojibwe language and land –based classes they were invited to Shawendaasowin Prevention Services to learn how to harvest a deer.

Students took turns sawing, slicing, cutting, and washing the meat. Alongside this, they were listening to cultural teachings and documenting with microphones, cameras and video cameras with the Naotkamegwanning’s community journalism trainer Karli Zschogner.

Teddy Copenace, the elementary land-based coordinator, guided them through the process, explaining the sacredness of the deer.

Kelsi Blackhawk photo credit
Student West Ranville jumps in to document audio and video as others take turns slicing deer meat, listening to teachings of Teddy Copenace (Photo Credit: Kelsi Blackhawk)

“The main protocols that I did was that we put tobacco down before we started cutting this deer up,” he said speaking to interviewer West Ranville. “This is someone’s clan and on top of that, the Creator is the one who gave us that deer for us to survive.”

He describes how the hooves are used for pow wow regalia, use the he use the hide as a drum, for moccasins, and a jacket to keep as warm

He also explains that out of respect for the animal, the skull and antlers are left with an offering of tobacco.

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Student West Ranville jumps in to document audio and video as others take turns slicing deer meat, listening to teachings of Teddy Copenace (Photo Credit: Kelsi Blackhawk)

Teacher Roland White says he was happy to students working with their hands.

“It’s part of our culture, it’s part of who who we are, to learn about animals,” he said.

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Baibombeh students take turns cutting up deer meat and documenting (Photo Credit: Kelsi Blackhawk)

Lester Kavanaugh, the Senior Prevention Worker at Shawendaasowin Prevention Services hosted the space.  He says he got the deer after requesting community hunters to donate wild game.

“I am planning on doing is feeding the students at least once or twice a month hot lunch,” he said.

When interviewed, Sharia Yomi of Grade 12 said she would definitely do this again.

“It was a good experience,” she said. “So that our young know how to skin deer and know the teachings of our animals and spirits.”

“Love seeing their smiles”, says Naotkamegwanning fishing derby organizer dedicated to memorializing local resident

By: Damon Hunter

The 15th annual Whitefish Bay Fall Bass Classic was held on Oct. 6th-7th, this year in memory of the late Angela White — who sadly passed away from cancer last year.

Alana Merrick, a co-organizer of the annual fishing derby with the late White, says she has dedicated the next four years’ events in her memory.

“Angela was one of our lead organizers,” she said. “She was an avid fisherwoman”.

Angela, born in Dryden, Ontario and raised in Naotkamegwanning First Nation, was known for her work in the community including co-organizing a drug awareness walk and the Seven Grandfathers awards.

With coverage from 89.5 The Lake radio, the event attracted a large amount of participants and sponsors, including a donation from RBC Royal Bank to help fund the competition. Participants came from Northwestern Ontario, Manitoba and even Minnesota, USA.

The yearly event is completely non-profit, Merrick said, and the money made off of it is recycled for the next year’s event.

“Every cent goes to the tournament,” said Merrick. “Then we start all over again.”

Merrick said it makes her feel good hosting the event as a space for men and women of all ages and to observe the different bass species. She said the biggest unrecorded bass was 7lbs 10oz.

I love seeing their smiles and seeing their excitement.”

This year’s winners were Toowaas White and Damien Paypompee. They took first place with the heaviest catches consisting of nine smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass.

In second place, Erick Bennett and Jim Ducharme. Following in third, Dana Fast and Mike Miles.

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This year’s winners, Toowaas White and Damien Paypompee (Photo credit: Keith Merrick)

Toowas White from Naotkamegwanning, says he has been attending the Bass Classic for 14 years and won second place in 2011 with his father-in-law.

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Winners trophies (Photo credit: Keith Merrick)

Having spent much time with Angela and her family fishing, said the tournament’s dedication was deserved, considering her a “ staple at the docks and at the weigh-ins.”

“Our community had three great male/female teams compete year in and year out,” he said.”  Her passing had an affect on all the fishermen in the community”

Next year’s Fall Bass Classic is to be expected again early October.