Top 8 Drum Groups – 2016 4/4

Top 8 Drum Groups – 2016 4/4

Singing is so important in Powwows. The drum is the heartbeat of the circle, the spark that brings everything to life. As drum groups sing they provide the arena with the prayers and the beat needed to dance. Most drum groups have between 6 and 12 drummers on a crew. They all sing and drum. Songs have 4 leads and subsequent courses. All songs are different, they are often sung in the different tribal language of the drum group. This can vary all the different kinds of songs, as some are for prayer, some are love songs, and some are just wicked beats aimed at throwing off dancers. It is said that the dancers are actually dancing against the drum their competition is to see who can best one another. Weather the dancer jams out to the songs or the drummers get the better and make them overstep the beat, it is fun to see the combination pan out. This is a list of drum groups who are my favorite drums this year; please watch the videos to hear the different styles.

1. Northern Cree

Northern Cree is a drum group from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation, they are made up of members from the treaty 6 nations of Canada. Their latest album is even Grammy nominated. This drum group is one of the best groups as everyone loves to jam out to their great music.

2. Bear Creek

Bear Creek .

3. Young Spirit

Young Spirit
(They make such beautiful songs also, the young boy in the bottom left corner, who is a part of the group is so adorable!!)

4. The Boyz

The Boyz

5. Blacklodge


6. Midnite Express

Midnite Express

7. Stoney Park

Stoney Park

8. Whitefish Jrs

Whitefish Jrs

Some how I started writing this post with the intention of having a top 4; it ended up being 6, then 7, and finally 8. The top 8 are purely subjective: I chose all northern drum groups, because I love listening and dancing to northern songs as a Jingle Dress Dancer. I am not saying that this is the top in order from best to worst, all of these drum groups are amazing. I hope you enjoy! If you do, please leave a comment (let me know who was your favorite) and feel free to look any of them up through Spotify, iTunes or head to a powwow nearby!

Top 6 Powwows you should attend in 2017! 3/4

Top 6 Powwows you should attend in 2017! 3/4

There are powwows held all across the United States and Canada.  Native Americans and First Nations People live all across the nation, so it makes sense that they would hold Powwows across the nation in their communities.  Many Natives have reservations, settlements, or tribal lands that the community can use to hold their Powwows.  I have traveled all across this nation Powwowing and I thought this would be the perfect place to recommend some powwows for y’all to go to! Here are my top 6 powwows you should go to.

1. Seminole Tribal Fair and Powwow

This powwow takes place on February 10-12, 2017 in Hollywood, FL. Held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood, this powwow is a great time to relax and see some amazing dancing and singing.  Don’t forget to see the alligators.

2. Denver March Powwow

Although this powwow takes place in the city, you are transported to the sioux nation.  This powwow is held on March 24-26, 2017. It is one of the biggest powwows in the nation and there are so many things to see from the vendor booths to the arena filled with drums and dancers.  They have one of the longest procession of flags accompanied by veterans in the world.  It is truly a great sight to see.

3. Gathering of Nations Powwow

The Largest powwow in North America is no exaggeration.  This Powwow in Albuquerque, NM happens on April 27-29, 2017.  Including the Pageant for Miss Indian World, all Nations are represented in the arena as dancers from across the U.S. and Canada come to Powwow. Hundreds of Vendors dancers make this powwow one to see.

4. Muckleshoot Veteran’s Powwow

Held in Auburn, WA in mid to late June is a great powwow to see.  The weather can be tricky but the singing and dancing more than make up for a little rain.  The Powwow has a great vibe for spectators and dancers alike.

5. 2017 Wacipi

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community knows how to throw a great powwow. Held in Shakopee, MN about a mile away from the Mystic River Casino just outside Minneapolis this community puts together arguably one of the best powwows in the nation. Held August 18-20, 2017 this year, the Powwow Committee invites the best drum groups to sing for the dancers the music is top notch. The dancing is great to see some of the Midwest’s best battle it out. The community also has a meal included with your admissions so you can try some native food.

6. San Manuel Powwow

Held in early October in San Bernardino, CA, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians put on their celebration hosting one of the largest drum contests in the nation. As the Cali weather cools down from summer heat the powwow gives a great distraction from the heat.

The Healing Dance 2/4

The Healing Dance 2/4

Much of who I am today can be attributed to the way my parents raised me. In the past 23 years, my parents have taken me to many powwows on various tribal lands throughout the United States. As I grew older and learned to dance, I fell in love with one particular dance style — the women’s Jingle Dress dance style. I dance the contemporary jingle dress style because it is graceful, intricate and beautiful; I personally believe it has the same value as the traditional style of dance.


What is the Jingle Dress?

The jingle dress is a strong cultural reference to the power of women. The Jingle Dress dance is known traditionally as a healing dance. It originated from the Ojibwe people around the time of World War I.

Origin story:

It is said that the vision of the jingle dress and the instructions for the dance, came to the father of a very sick Ojibwe girl when he prayed to save his daughter. In his vision there was four women dancing around his daughter to the beat of a drum. When he woke up he sought out four women to help him put the dresses together with rows of cones made from the lids of tobacco can lids. It took the women four days to complete these dresses; on the fourth day, they danced to a song which had four versus. (As it it known in indigenous cultures that 4 is a sacred number.) As the women danced around his daughter, she grew stronger and was able to dance with them by the fourth verse. After this she recovered completely and continued to dance; she eventually formed the first Jingle Dress Dance Society.


Traditional VS. Contemporary

The traditional dance required the dancers to never cross their feet, never dance backward, and never complete circle. They kept footwork light, nimble, and close to the ground. Their dresses chirped as they moved.

The contemporary Jingle Dress Dance allows more fluidity, the dancers can cross their feet, can complete full circles, and can dance backwards. The dresses are designed so they can move more freely, but the metal cones remain, singing along, while the dancer often carries a feather fan during the dance.


Native American Pow Wows 1/4

Native American Pow Wows 1/4

A Powwow is a Native American Celebration.  It brings together all nations to celebrate life.  It is a ceremony that can heal the spirit and bring a good feeling to all that come.  Traditionally Powwows were social gatherings for the tribe to get together and socialize, sing, dance, and eat.  Modern day powwows are very similar, implementing all the same ideas and meanings with dancing, singing and food. Modern day powwows have evolved over the years with changing dance styles, different songs, and different foods.  The feeling and intent of the celebration is still intact, celebrating being Native American, honoring the earth, honoring our ancestors, and honoring our warriors.  There are many reasons to have a powwow, but most importantly is its byproduct of preserving native culture.  Powwows have always been for the people and we need them today more than ever.

I’ve been a part of the powwow circle all of my life.  My family has always been heavily involved in powwows from dancing to running their own powwows. My father and all of my siblings all dance different styles.  My mother sews and beads for all of us.  Having this in my life has been really positive, as it has taught me to be a better community member and taught me respect.  I have always appreciated the dancing and singing which has kept my family close. As we grow older I am so glad my family is so involved and have worked hard to be a positive force in our community, because it allows us to spend tie together and stay close.  I know as we all start leaving home, start our own families that powwows and family time will keep us close.


One of the greatest parts of the powwow is the dancing.  There are over 30 different styles of dancing.  There are some for men and women alike.  Most dance styles originated from plains tribes, but there are also different dance styles specific to other tribes.  Dancing is a combination of the guidelines of the style and a personal flair so many dancers put their own spin on the type of dancing.  The creativity in both dancing and creating your dancing regalia can tell you a lot about a person.  Most regalia is made by hand or with the help of sewing machines. Regalia differs from style to style.  As society has evolved so has material and clothing items allowing for regalia to also evolve.  Today most people use vibrant colors and patterns to make their regalia which helps the dancer stand out. I hope you can come check out a powwow soon and see this amazing event yourself, because it really is something you should experience in your life.

A Native American Political Perspective

A Native American Political Perspective

The 2016 Election Cycle has been quite a wild ride. News Networks kept saying this election cycle is like nothing they’ve ever seen before. The election definitely lived up to that hype.

We came to the point where the two main nominees in the bi-partisan style presidential race were a woman with 30 years of experience in the political arena, arguably the most qualified candidate to date, and a business man with no political background, a brazen reality television star billionaire. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are very polarizing figures in politics, both posting the high unfavorable ratings even within their own parties, yet the final two candidates in the presidential race. (Sorry, Third party candidates there just isn’t enough support for a multiparty system) As the election came and went the virtual landslide for Clinton never happened and the Electoral College essentially gave Trump the election. The popular votes tally today with Clinton ahead nearly 2.5 Million votes. As I reflect on the Election it is almost surreal to comprehend how America got to this point.

As a Native American Woman I saw a lot of flaws in the President- Elect Donald Trump. I did not see his vision of America. In fact I still do not understand how he was elected, because as I reread all his campaign promises and positions on key issues I was baffled by the ideas he put forward. Overall I thought of all the reasons why I was not in the Trump camp and why I did not vote for him. There were quite a lot of reasons from his stances on key issues and the rhetoric and tone his campaign displayed throughout the election cycle.


As a Woman, as a millennial, as a Native American, and all the other labels I consider myself there were too many reasons to count why I would not vote for Trump. As the election is over I wanted to point out issues, specifically for Native Americans, which would be affecting my community.  These are issues that I think are the most important to watch over the course of a Trump Presidency, because Native Americans are at high risk of losing many rights that were guaranteed through the constitution, Treaties, and laws written over the last century.

5 Issues Native Americans Will Face Under Trump:

1. Invalidating Native American Identity

In 1993 Trump stated in a Senate Subcommittee Meeting on Gaming that some Natives did not look native to him and alleged that Native Gaming was a front to organized crime organizations. His shameless attempt to knock down Native owned casinos as his casinos filed for bankruptcy, was just the beginning of his disdain for Native Americans as he questions the Native Gaming Commission and even falsely stated that Native Americans do not have to pay taxes. His testimony called into question the recognition of Native American tribes and their rights granted by the government under treaties, bills, and court cases in the Supreme Court. As Trump becomes the President he will have the power to end treaties and negate all Native American laws and bills. This would be detrimental to Native Communities.

2. His Investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline

Donald Trump has $500,000 tied to the parent company of the pipeline Energy Transfer Partners. As so many tribes and nations came together to protest the building of the pipeline that would in directly violate a current treaty with the United States, this is something dear to all native nations who are looking to preserve their sovereignty. The CEO of Energy Transfer Partners fully believes that a President Trump will allow his Pipeline to be built and will allow the company to break treaty rights of hundreds to do so.

3. Donald Trump is for Privatizing Native Reservations

If it wasn’t enough that the government have been continuously taking pieces of land granted to Native Americans through treaties, Donald Trump wants Native Nations to privatize so tribes can sell off the land to companies for development, including oil companies. Privatization will “allow” tribes to sell land back to the government to sell to companies. Basically buying land granted to Native Americans in treaties for pennies on the dollar to make the government a profit without violating treaties.

4. Privatizing Medicare and Repealing Obamacare

For all its flaws the Affordable Care Act did allow for the government to add funding to Indian Health Service (HIS) Hospitals and Clinics to better serve Native American Communities. With a repeal and privatization of Medicare, Funding for IHS could very well be cut in order to fund the new system leaving thousands of natives without healthcare.

5. Invading Tribal Sovereignty

One of Trump’s biggest campaign promises boasted a wall that would be built along our southern border. Not only is this plan absurd, but it would directly cross the Tohono O’odham Nation Land. In order for Trump’s wall to be put up he would have to get the Nation to cooperate or force the Nation to leave its land to build his wall.

Native Pride Dancers in Kyrgyzstan

Native Pride Dancers in Kyrgyzstan

The Native Pride Dancers traveled half way around the world to be a part of the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan from September 1-7, 2016. Shaina Snyder, William Leonard, Shelby Snyder, Sean Snyder, & Adrian Stevens were brought out by the U.S. Embassy Bishkek.  While in  Kyrgyzstan, these cultural dancers and educators proudly represented Native American peoples of the United States at the World Nomad Games.

Who Are They?

Native American artists and dancers from all over the U.S. and Canada join together as one. The Native Pride Dancers are an Internationally known, high-energy show featuring an innovative blend of modern and traditional Native American dance styles. The dancers wear various assortments of brightly-colored ribbons, feathers and beads which honor the nations’ elders. They use beautiful cultural art forms like music, dance and storytelling to reflect their rich cultural history and customs passed down from generation to generation. They share the true history of bravery, fortitude, generosity and wisdom. The Native Pride Dancers are passionately devoted to keeping Native American traditions alive.

“Our dance is contemporary, and yet primal as we use every muscle and breath to express our rich, cultural heritage. Our mission is to educate, inspire, motivate and empower diverse communities to bridge cultural gaps through Indigenous traditions. Feel the beat of the drum, experience the hypnotizing power of dance, and enjoy the rhythm of the music as we share the cultural history, traditions, ways, beliefs, and spiritual importance of Indigenous peoples.”
Larry Yazzie, Native Pride Dancers – Artistic Director and Founder


The Opening Ceremony

The II annual World Nomad Games held their opening ceremony at the Hippodrome off of Issyk-Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan on September 1, 2016. The Native Pride Dancers cheered as team USA entered the arena with athletes from over 40 countries.


Yurts, Yurts and Tee-Pee!

The Native Pride Dancers performed daily at the American Corner Stage which was hosted by the U.S. Embassy Bishkek. Many people came to watch the educational dance performances. This stage was up in the mountains surrounded by communities of Yurts where people camped and celebrated the World Nomad Games. Different Nomadic games like eagle hunting were held up in these mountains.


Kyrgyz Hospitality

Throughout the days, the Native Pride Dancers got the chance to experience Kyrgyzstan. They swam in Lake Issyk-Kul, rode on horses and camels, held eagles, met new people, tried new food, and viewed the local arts surrounding them – from clothing and rugs, to yurts. They were also generously hosted in the American Corner yurt, which was filled with traditional foods and arts; it was a truly beautiful and memorable moment.

The Hippodrome

As the games were coming to an end, there was a huge show at the Hippodrome which featured Kyrgyz fashion designers, musical artists and performers. The Native Pride Dancers performed on this huge stage, as part of the event which was televised around Central Asia.



Before the Native Pride Dancers left Kyrgyzstan, they did a couple more performances. A performance at the American Corner in Kant and the last for students at the American University of Central Asia.