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Old 09-26-2009, 03:04 PM   #1
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Archie Mason to end career as Powwow Emcee

For those of you who have attended Powwows here in Oklahoma know Archie Mason his voice will be missed...


By Shannon Shaw
Osage News

Archie Mason, a familiar and warm voice for many Native Americans across the country, has announced he will be ending his long-time career as Powwow Emcee.

“What I’ve done was give my best, as us Osages do,” Mason said. “I will miss the extended family that one acquires, Indian way. I’ll miss that part but I have so many wonderful memories.”

“It’s time for me to give all my time to my family and to spend my weekends devoted to my grandchildren,” he said.

Powwows, the pastime of many Native Americans, is a meeting place to enjoy fellowship and dancing, as well as other cultures among other tribes and can be at times attended by thousands. The emcee is the heart and soul of the dance, they keep the dance moving, they keep the attendees entertained and at times can bring tears of laughter.

Mason’s career spans 37 years as an emcee at powwows all over the United States. He’s even emceed powwows in Singapore, England and France. The “powwow season,” as it is often referred to, is at its strongest in Oklahoma during the summer, where dancers and families go to a different powwow every weekend. Each weekend, for the past 37 years, Mason emceed from the start of summer to Labor Day weekend, and some of those weekends would be journeys out-of-state.

He got his start in 1972 under the tutelage of the late John McClellan and has since “worked with the masters.” Such masters as the late Kenneth Anquoe, who Mason said recognized his potential as an emcee in the early 70’s in Tulsa, and his dear friend Tony Arkeketa, who’s helped him throughout his long career.

“I’ve always said Tony Arkeketa was my mentor and he’s still my mentor,” Mason said.

Another master emcee of the powwow world is Sammy “Tonekei” White, who has emceed some of the largest powwows in the country and is the regular emcee for the Gathering of Nations held in April every year in Albuquerque, N.M. White hosted this year’s Gathering at the age of 80.

“[Mason] goes out of his way not to embarrass anyone in the audience, the Indian audience,” White said. “He has a friendly and respectful way of [announcing].”

“I just like to be in the audience and listen to him, something I don’t get to do much anymore. He was one of the special people in my life,” White said.

Mason’s wife Ramona, and constant companion at powwows, remembers so many good times they had, exploring the other Native cultures they visited and the friends they’ve made along the way who became extended family.

“We enjoyed the time together. During the week we would each be involved with our own professional obligations, so weekends were our time to catch up with each other,” Ramona said. “Often we would drive, and experience the new sites together. We had a lot of time to talk. Sometimes we just enjoyed beautiful places in silence, as if speaking would break a spell.”

“We’re not leaving the powwow world, we’re just taking a more relaxed participation. I’m hoping [Archie] will do some dancing now, he is a champion dancer, you know,” she said.

Osages welcomed his voice at Ki-He-Kah-Steh Powwow, Tulsa Powwow and IICOT Powwow every summer for more than 30 years. One of those Osages was Jackie McCann and her family. McCann, Osage, grew up listening to Mason and once she began to help with the inner workings of Ki-He-Kah-Steh Powwow, it was Mason who was her biggest helper.

“It’s gonna be sad to know that there’s going to be someone new filling his seat,” McCann said. “When me and my sister [Asa Cunningham] first started helping with Ki-He-Kah-Steh, he could have ignored us and shut us out but instead he helped us and made sure we had everything we needed.”

Mason has nine grandchildren ranging from ages six to 20-years-old. Being obligated to every weekend during the summer he’s missed ball games, concerts, Scout events and birthday parties, but no more.

He sent a letter to friends and family, many of them powwow organizers, to announce his retirement and thank them for allowing him to be their emcee for so many years.

“All of you throughout Indian Country have been kind, respectful, friendly, and understanding to me and my family during my tenure as an emcee,” he wrote in the letter. “My autumn years are here now and I choose to accept this juncture and devote my time and remainder of my life to my family and personal things yet to come.”

Archie Mason to end career as Powwow Emcee|Osage News
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:56 AM   #2
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WOW! Oklahoma powwows will miss his voice, but I'm sure he will still attend and enjoy from the audience.

I certainly wish him and his family all the best!
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