The Beauty of the Native American Culture
As I sit in the student center, waiting upon the arrival of The Authentic Native American Trio, I suddenly hear the clacking of bells from behind me. A smile emerges on my face: they have arrived.
The head of the group, Reggie Pettybone, is making his way toward the stage. He is dressed in Native American attire that has clearly been passed from generation to generation. His wife, Marca Pettybone, follows gracefully behind him. The third member of their trio, their daughter, was ill and unfortunately could not make it. However, that did not make the performance any less grasping and enchanting.
The group comes from the Ho-Chunk tribe which originated roughly around 900 years ago. The land they used to occupy is now modern day Wisconsin; but even though times have changed, their beliefs and perspectives have not. Their views on life and existence; God and man, were honestly refreshing. The ambiance of peace and forgiveness that lies deeply within their spirits exudes from the inside out. Their mere presence targeted that to the audience. Reggie began the performance by mentioning the higher power and what he has created: the circle of life. All things have a soul, intimate objects belonging to man and animals. All are in tangible existence on God’s turf and ours. I’m going to assume the old phrase, “Right foot! Left foot!” is remembered and stored in your memory vault. That’s precisely the method the Native Americans use in regards to life before we enter Earth, and life on Earth. The left foot is used to step out of Heaven, through the stars and planets, and down to Earth. That’s when the left foot is put into action. It’s all up hill from there. Shortly after explaining this, Reggie took a drum made from Buffalo skin and began to pound on it. “The drum is the heartbeat of music, is what I always say” Reggie quipped; I smirked when he said this. The instrument certainly gives off that mirage.
He then proceeded with the performance; numerous dances ensued, each representing something different - eye opening metaphors about life.
The first dance was called, “Grand Entry”; a fundamental “thank you” to The Creator intended to remind their people to keep a clear mind when trying to understand everything and everyone around them. His blue moccasins made a circle around a sheet of buffalo skin and other assorted items from their tribe.
His wife held a red cloth with yellow squares condensed together on the side of it. She was following her husband around the buffalo skin, as well. They made a couple rounds of the same motions before ending and continuing with their sharing of the Ho-Chunk tribe.
The rest of the dances (“Woman’s Traditional”, “Men’s Traditional”, and “Intertribal Dance”) were similar to the first, but slightly differing in background music, which consisted of a man yelping and rhythmically swaying with the drums.
One thing Reggie and Marca emphasized fully was that war dances were never thought of or contemplated. The tribe strives for peace. He introduced words translated in his language such as “friend”, “hello”, and “see you later”. The phrase “good-bye” doesn’t exist in their world; they believe souls eventually meet up again. Heaven is where they will be called upon by the names their tribes originally gave them at birth – their Native American name. That last bit of information, just so happens to be the most enlightening concept I’ve had the pleasure of hearing, all year.
The performance was sponsored by the Student Activities Office and the Council of World Cultures as part of the Around the World Concert series.