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  • Round Dance/Push Dance

    Sup Yall,

    I know yall talk bout singing en everythang...whos simply the best round dance singers or for that matter Push Dance around??? My personal favez:

    1. Northern Cree
    2. Night Hawks
    3. White Fish Jrs.
    4. Little Island Cree
    5. Plenty Coups

    the ruffler

  • #2
    In my opinion when it comes to contemp round dance singing/dancing, no one beats Cree drums, lets face it, round dance is our old way and is more popular here than bingo and pow-wow combined.
    Pick ten Cree drums and decide for yourself, a couple thousand round dances each year can't be wrong!

    As far as the best singers, that is even more diffiuclt to say unless one has the time to go around to these many hundreds of round, tea and memorial round dances held in the fall and winter and has the opportunity to listen to all the singers, elders to youth who all are incredibly good, have been singing since thye could walk....and most who will never be recorded.
    My late father gave Edmund Bull many of his songs, none the less which are the songs on the "I've been everywhere" tape, etc, which went on to win the World championship for them 2 years ago, many of the songs Red Bull and Edmund sing are from my late dad..many drums have asked for his songs over the past 25 years and many do not know that he composed them.
    Most of these drums are the big boys as thye knew my late dad as aan excellent song composer for old and contemp style round and pow-wow songs and ceremonies.

    Kahkakew

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    • #3
      In my opinion, the best Northern round dance singers would have to be Star Blanket Jrs. I had the opportunity to listen to themm on a recording from a powwow a few years ago. They have a great sound, and a very pretty style of singing. Black Lodge is a close second!

      Singer

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      • #4
        Kahkahew,

        At the round dances up in your part of the world, are hand drums or large bass style drums used? Are the Cree songs vocables, word songs, or both?

        In July I saw a Cree man sing round dance songs on a hand drum. He was probably one of the best singers I have ever heard. It was a pleasure to hear. If he is typical of Cree singers then you are probably right about Crees being the best singers.

        CEM.

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        • #5
          Yes only hand drums are used in RD, never seen the big drum at any round dance...he does sound like a typical Cree singer..there are just so many like him, including myself.
          A typical weekend starts off with a RD on one rez then on Saturday the next rez and sometimes on Sundays another rez has one, of course there are many many more reserves that are hosting a RD at the same time and it is very common for Round dancers and singers to travel to 3-4 communities to sing and dance in any weekeend. In total these round dances number in the hundreds, mostly in Saskatchewan and Alberta and they begin in early fall and go well into spring. Many of the well nown pow-wow singers got their start in round dance singing behind the lead singers, waiting their turn to one day be recognized as a lead singer who is asked to sing a few songs.
          Round dances start out with a pipe ceremony and a tradish feast, then the fun begins, singing and dancing well into the early early hours of the a.m...5 am is not uncommon..then catch some sleep. say good bye to your snag and drive to the next feast around 5 pm and away we go again.
          THe halls become so crowded that once everyone is up and dancing all the chairs are pushed towards the walls as upwards of 30-40 rows of people dance in unison to the songs.....there are special dances as well, a flag dance being my favorite..that is where visitors are asked to dance by community members and then they are given some $$$ for their travels..this is where one will also see the original owl and rabbit dance too.
          The MC will recognize lead sngers as they enter the hall and they will be asked to sing, many times I have watched older men wait sometimes alnight without being recognized as their are so many good singers there.
          I went to a round dance many years ago with a friend who was the lead singer of Pipestone Creek..he is a well known round dance singer...we watched everyone dancing, talking, and he asked me why I thought the older people and elders came to RD..I laughed and replied, like everyone else to dance, visit and eat....he told me to watch this older man and woman and sure enough as the night wore on they disappeared...then I noticed the same thing again and again with other elders and older people...I figured it out, much like our young kids and adults who snag at pow-wows, the RD are a social occasion where the older folks got a chance to mingle and have some fun too....I went to probobly 100 round dances that year and after awhile it was very noticeable, but no one cared as they minded their own business.
          At the end of the night they sing beautiful "Go home" songs and then shut her down..our feast are different too as everyone sits on the floor except for the older elders who need a chair..everyone brings lots of tupperware containers and a bowl, plate, cup and some cutlery...the young men serve everyone in a line, they come to where you are sitting and serve you a little in your food dish and they load up your containers to take home....moose meat, deer meat, banock, flour soup, duck soup, rabbit stew, rice pudding, etc fruit and on and on they come one after the other to serve until no one else wants anymore..then many people go home to bring their food and they return to start dancing, it's great..incredibly smokey as most people smoke..alot!
          If you are not a seasoned RD vet, you will get a sore hip from dancing so much..there is alot of things going on, people cut in on the circles by a person they like or want to get to know..of course outside there are many people talking, laughing and teasing but the one thing the elders love about our round dances is the huge numbers of youth who come out and they are sober and clean.
          It teaches them not only our culture and traditions, but also how to associate with people in a good way.
          In the circle of drummers, often there are 20-30 drummbers behind and around the leads who have been recognized you will see very young boyz and girls singing and drumming. The hand drum is not an issue with us for women because it is a long ways from their power, so mnay youth apprentice for many years singing along side RD vets who are well known.
          The best time of year is between Xmas and New Years...8 days in a row, a RD marathon...the second last night at new years eve, everyone rushes out of the hall to shoot off rifles at midnight..usually there is a midnight snack which looks more like another feast..then back to dancing, singing, visiting and snagging, many a Cree baby came from a RD encounter...CHAA!!
          We say that the RD is a healing dance given to us to heal those who are ill and sick in their bodies, hearts and minds..I know many who were diagnosed with cancer and the elders told them to dance RD and they were cured because they prayed hard whilst they danced and sang.
          For myself, RD are more enjoyable than Pow-wow as you can feel the drumming hit you on every beat, especially when the drummers tickle the hide in unison and they sound as one huge drum.
          Alot of non-Cree singers have done a very good job of imitating our round dance singing, but they can not match the drumming or lead singers in either vocables or word songs which are both popoular...many of the word songs are social songs meant for fun.
          many of the RD songs have been around so,long no one knows their origins, many claim them but many sing them a little differently.
          One has to go to them to truly appeciate them..Tooter must know as she lived in my area for a few years.

          Kahkakew

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          • #6
            Kahkakew,

            That sounds like the place to be. I love round dances more so than any other style of singing. I sing them southern style, of course. Many southern round dances came from the northern tribes and are very pretty tunes. There are however, very few people that sing round dances or know more than the standard 10 or so. It is my understanding that round dances were very popular here in the south in the 40's and 50's. The Gourd dance was revatalized during this time period and round dances have sorta taken the back burner. What you described, truely sounds like very nice events.

            Brown Hornet

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            • #7
              Okay! i love to push dance! and i don't think anyone knows how to sing a good song but... Night Hawk, Black Whistle, and all the Crow drum groups! i like round dances too, but push dances are the fun ones! well, shinniaks from Crow Country! aho' aho'!
              Little Crow Girl
              ~*LITTLE*CROW*GIRL*~

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