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  • Grand Entry

    Posted by middle of the sky

    Grand Entry

    “Oh…my….God. What the hell is he doing here?” Sherry said more to herself than to Karen who was sitting beside her at the top of a small baseball bleacher.
    “Who? Who?” Karen asked while she chewed a mouth full of bannock.
    “His Royal Highness Wannabe Chief Premier Poops-A-Lot. Shhh. Don’t look and don’t turn around. He’s right behind us. Just wait till he walks by.” Karen chewed slowly so she wouldn’t choke and miss finding out who this person was. “Okay, look to your left but don’t make it obvious. There, in the black leather jacket,” Sherry indicated by pointing her lips.
    “What, who? I don’t know who? Is it Elvis?”
    “No. It’s Todd Brown.”
    “Todd Brown. He’s the head of the Urban Aboriginal Coalition. He wants to be head honcho of everything. Him and his little band of cronies.”
    “Ahhh,” Karen said, not really caring.
    “It’s gotta be an election somewhere because I’ve never seen him at a pow-wow,” Sherry continued. “And if I see him kissing papooses I’m going to upchuck my bannock.”
    “Gee, Sherry. We’re at a pow-wow. You shouldn’t be talking bad about other people at a pow-wow.”
    “Yeah, well he shouldn’t be doing bad anywhere. He’s just a power-hungry self-centred unqualified idiot.”
    “Holuh Sherry. You better go to a meeting or a sweat.”
    “He’s the one who should be sweating. He plays dirty politics and if his nose were any browner you’d say it was a piece of poo.”
    Karen rolled her eyes. Just then the announcer spoke over the microphone, “Okay people, five minutes to grand entry!” The line up of dancers and dignitaries was ready at the east entrance of the pow-wow area. Small baseball bleachers and lawn chairs of various types for the dancers and their families formed the circle. In front of the announcer stand sat the host drum which included eight men sitting around a big drum. Further to the right of the stand there were about eight more drum groups lined up and another group was just arriving and setting up. Anticipation was thick in the early evening air. The whip man in the centre of the circle gave one last look around and then waved his stick in a small circle in the air. The announcer spoke, “Hokah! Everyone please rise. It’s pow-wow time! Grand entry time!”
    The host drum started the grand entry song. People stood up and the flag and staff carriers started dancing into the circle. They were followed by a few Native Veterans and then the head woman and man dancers. Then the order of dancers from Golden Age men, Golden Age women, men’s traditional, women’s traditional etc, down to the tiny tots.
    Karen was smiling, enjoying the procession of bright colours, magnificent creative outfits of beads, shiny jingles and feathers. Sherry was looking at each dancer’s regalia, also. She liked watching the graceful movements of the dancers and how proud they danced around in time to the beat of the drum, the heart beat of Mother Earth, as the drumming was called. She didn’t know why but after the tiny tots danced in she felt like crying and she tried to hide her tears by looking down and fiddling with her purse. Maybe it was the beat of the drums or the song that was coming through the speakers or the sky slowly fading into darker shades of blue or maybe her period was coming but in the back of her mind she saw the beauty of her people and all the crap they had to go through but here they were in this one moment in time all beautiful and she tried to memorize this picture forever. Once the last tiny tot dancer was in, a little boy fancy dancer of about five years of age, the grand entry song stopped. All the dancers stood in a circle and after a few minutes the flag and victory song were sung. The audience remained standing as an elder from the reserve gave a prayer in Indian then English and then the opening words of welcome. Then came the announcing of the many princesses from other pow-wows and that’s when Karen and Sherry took off to the port-a-potties. It was always embarrassing to come out of a porta-potty and there was some handsome traditional dancer waiting in line so they both made sure to go while they knew the dancers were still on the floor.
    “Let’s go get something to eat now,” Karen suggested.
    Standing in the line, Sherry noticed from the corner of her eye that Todd Brown was a couple of people behind her. She felt her face blush and she was glad her long auburn hair was down to hide her burning ears. She was mad at him because she didn’t even get short-listed for an interview and that he had hired a woman that he was involved with romantically. She went to school with that woman and as Sherry recalled this woman would always put her hand up in class and then go off on a tangent about her life and then would get mad at other students if they tried to interrupt her. This was in Native Law and when Sherry and a few others tried to express concern to the professor about this woman he said something to the effect that when they go out in the real world they would have to deal with people like that and they would have to learn to deal with it. Sherry was mad because she had taken out a student loan for three thousand five hundred dollars and she didn’t want to hear this woman’s life story every damned class and she was positive this woman would never get a job in the real world anyways.
    “Sherry!” Karen repeated.
    “You’re next.”
    Sherry looked at the young girls working the concession who were waiting for her to order. “Oh sorry. One salmon dinner and a Pepsi, please.” She turned to Karen and said. “Yep, there’s nothing better in the whole world than some barbecued salmon and an ice cold Pepsi.”
    They got their plates and turned around. Sherry was glad Todd was looking at the menu board and not at her, but she wasn’t sure if he even knew who she was.
    “I just can’t stand that guy,” Sherry said as they walked back to their seats. “Who?”
    “Todd Brown Noser.”
    “Oh cripes, Sherry. Forget about it! Are you still mad you never got the job?”
    “Yes and cause he hired that airhead who’s unqualified for the job. It’s not who you know, it’s who you blow. You know I really respected him but now I’ve heard too much crap about him and I’m beginning to believe it’s true. I don’t care what AA says. Everyone talks about other people anyways. Look at old Doris always talking **** about me. Saying I try to snag her boyfriends. Have you seen her boyfriends? Yikes. That jealous old hag.”
    “Are you sure you’re not jealous?”
    “Jealous? Jealous of what? That our people have to suffer cause even in the city if you’re not part of some stupid little clique you can’t get hired anywhere? It’s the people that have to suffer cause these pot smoking Indian yuppies want power but they don’t know anything about anything? Where are the real leaders? Where’s the humbleness and humility? There’s no real Indians anymore.”
    “Wow. I didn’t realize that. You mean there’s no real Indians here?” Karen asked not surprised because she was used to Sherry’s outlook.
    “I don’t know. This seems so commercialized. Oh great. Look now. There’s Kirsten. If there’s any name I hate more in the world it’s Kirsten. Look at her fake Indian jacket, fringe and all. Is that a real Indian?”
    “Sherry, uh. You’re wearing an Indian Motorcycle t-shirt.”
    “Yeah, well. That’s different. That’s different because I’m cool.”
    “Hey you know why they have fringe on those jackets?” Karen piped up.
    “I don’t know. To look pretty?”
    “No, the water falls off it there, instead of getting the coat all soaked.”
    “Wow. I didn’t know that.” Sherry imagined rain falling off the fringe.
    Todd made up his mind. He was ready for his order. “Three Indian tacos, one coffee and two apple juices. Do you have a box I can use to carry everything?” He wished he brought his two sons with him to carry the stuff but he wanted them to save their places on the top bleachers.
    “Why do we have to come here Dad? This is weird.” Cameron his twelve year old asked when they pulled up to the pow-wow parking lot.
    “It’s not weird. I want my boys to experience all cultures. I want you guys to listen to all kinds of music, see all kinds of art.”
    “How long do we have to stay here?” Asked his ten year old son Brandon?
    “Not too long. I just need to talk to some people, and then we’ll go.”
    Todd was impressed with the grand entry and he wondered if there was chance to mention the upcoming election on the P.A. system. He wished he had talked to the organizers beforehand. Todd prided himself on his public speaking skills. Joining Toastmasters was the best thing he ever did for his career. This election was a stepping stone. He had it all planned out. His picture on the front page with the premier was a coup because he knew that image would be subconsciously planted in people’s heads, a First Nations in Parliament. He knew it was weird but he admired Hitler only because of the way he could work a crowd and Todd could work a crowd. Most Native people he felt knew nothing about politics and he was the one who could lead them out of the dark ages. When he got back to their seats his sons weren’t there. Other people were sitting in the place he left them. He spotted them looking at a toy stand.
    “Can we have money, Dad?” asked Brandon.
    “Not now, later. Look our seats are gone now we have to find other seats. Come on.”
    They walked around the outside and Todd looked up at the bleachers. There’re weren’t any empty near the announcer stand and Todd cursed silently. Todd knew where to be noticed. Okay, but walking around is good, also. He saw many people he knew and said hello. They were mostly West Coast artisans with booths. Finally he spied a space to fit them. It was on the first tier of some bleachers. He directed his sons to sit and sat in between them, passed them their food and then put on his sunglasses and started to eat. “Hmmm, good tacos.”
    “Man, does the Great Spirit have a sense of humour or what? Bonehead is sitting right directly across from us.” Sherry informed Karen.
    “We came here to enjoy the pow-wow not look at bonehead. Just get over it and move on with your life. You’d think you have a crush on him or something.”
    “Don’t be retarded.”
    “Hey I remember you said he was good looking before.”
    “Yeah that was before I knew what an a-hole he was.”
    “You’re jealous.”
    “I am not.”
    Sherry was going to ignore Todd and any comments about him. She savoured every bite of the warm salmon and washed it down with the ice cold Pepsi.
    “Man, I’m stuffed. We have to dance off this supper. I hope they have another intertribal. Will you dance, Sherry? Maybe an owl dance. You can ask Todd.”
    Sherry ignored her and watched the dancers going round and round like some colourful human merry go round. They both stood when the Golden age categories danced and Sherry was annoyed to see Todd and his sons sitting. The two women both watched the men’s category keenly. Both were too shy to talk to any of the dancers from Washington they admired. Sherry did try to make eye contact with one but later felt stupid when she saw him sitting beside a pretty lady in a women’s traditional outfit. I’m worlds away from these pow-wow people Sherry thought, a city girl. She looked in the distance at Mount Baker and could still see its white top in the fading light. Maybe some day I’ll dance pow-wow but I belong to AA and I dance to the beat of a different drum, Techno. Sherry smiled to herself then stopped suddenly. She knew she had to find a job soon.
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  • #2
    She was going to graduate with her B.A. next month and it wasn’t fair that Kirsten was flouncing around in a factory fringe jacket because she dropped out of school due to “family problems” but everyone knew she was just duh. Sherry watched Kirsten push her big butt beside a couple on the bleachers above where Todd sat. Kirsten leaned over and her cleavage showed. Has she no shame? Oh, they were just too cool.
    It was getting chilly as the September sun set. Sherry put on her black hoody and zipped it up. She saw Kirsten leave her seat and walk towards the porta-potties. Sherry stood up and told Karen she was going to the washroom.
    “Want me to come?”
    “Naw. It’s okay.”
    Sherry timed it just right. She saw Kirsten go into a porta-potty and she waited. She didn’t know what to say but she wanted to tell her she was graduating. Kirsten came out and washed her hands by the porta-sinks. Sherry noticed her silver jewelry shining.
    “Hi Kirsten.”
    Kirsten turned to look at her. “Oh hi Sharon.” Kirsten always called her Sharon and Sherry knew it was on purpose.”
    “It’s Sherry. How’s it going?”
    “Everything’s going great. You?”
    “I’m going to graduate this spring.”
    “Good for you. I don’t believe in the white man’s school anymore. Who needs it? Sorry, I have to run. ” Then she left out the gate and Sherry watched her take out keys from her purse and zap a new white truck open. Sherry walked back to her seat.
    Karen looked at her, “Hey, they’re going to have a 50/50 draw. Let’s get tickets.”
    Sherry didn’t tell Karen about Kirsten’s truck. “Yeah, I’ll buy some tickets as soon as they come over this way.” She looked across and saw Todd taking off his leather jacket and stretching out his two toned arms while a young girl measured a roll of tickets against them. People around them laughed. Some genius came up with that marketing technique and it worked. People bought tickets like crazy. Karen and Sherry bought one arms length each.
    Sherry’s mind wasn’t on the pow-wow. She was pondering the unfairness of this situation and how she could remedy it. She couldn’t send a letter to the Native newspaper because the editor/owner was friends with Todd. She could write an anonymous letter to the city and tell them how incompetent he was. But that was really her opinion and not based on fact except his hiring of an airhead. She heard he drank at some snazzy bar. Maybe she could go there with a camera and catch him? Sherry stopped herself.
    What was she thinking? She knew she would get a job with Indian Affairs, some stupid pencil pushing job and let the world unfold as it should. She wasn’t God. Maybe she was just jealous?
    The announcer said the next song was a Round Dance. “Everyone up, dancers and audience join in.” There was already about fifty people out on the floor. More joined in.
    Karen stood up, “Come on, Sherry.”
    “No way.”
    “Oh come on. It’s dark out and it looks like fun.” It was dark and the electric motor run lights weren’t that much help. Plus they were so many people out on the floor. She didn’t know the step but she saw others didn’t know it that well either. She allowed Karen to pull her out. Sherry was holding hands with Karen then another lady grabbed her other hand.
    “Watch my feet!” Karen yelled. She was side stepping to the double beat of the drum and Sherry caught on. It was fun. There must have been two hundred people in the circle. Just then some people on her left starting turning the other way and shaking hands with people down the line. They got to Karen and Sherry and Sherry couldn’t dance and shake hands at the same time so she kind of shuffled along but she did enjoy shaking hands with people. There were male traditional dancers with their face painted. She couldn’t tell if they were smiling or not. There were shy young people that didn’t look at your face and old people that were smiling so happily and beautiful women in regalia. Some hands were cold and some warm. The next person shook her hand hard and said “Hello.”
    It was Todd. Sherry wasn’t sure if he knew her or anything about her but in that split second he said hello she saw something in his eyes that told her he was genuinely having fun. He seemed innocent or vulnerable to Sherry. The next two hands were his sons but they didn’t look at her. The announcer asked for more people to join in. Sherry didn’t think there were more people and they were all on the dance floor. They were all holding hands again and then people ran forward to the middle of the circle and went “Whoooo!” And then they had to walk backwards holding hands and dance again. Sherry and Karen were laughing loud. The elder people left the circle and the young people ran forward again pulling Karen and Sherry along.
    After it was over Sherry was out of breath. She climbed up the bleachers and took along drink of her water bottle. People were dancing another round dance. She just wanted to watch. She saw Karen out there but no Todd.
    Karen came back. “It’s Intertribal. Come on,” she said extending her hand.
    “I can’t.”
    “Yes, you can. It’s easy. I’ll teach you. Come on, don’t be a wuss. It’s just toe, heel down, toe, heel down. Unless you want to cut loose?”
    Sherry smiled as Karen pulled her onto the dance area and then she began to follow Karen’s feet.�
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