The first 30 years of my life, I must have been a boring life because I always tried to walk a straight road... It wasn't until I finished college and finished military that I had my first drink. . . I had a delayed life and today, I'm probably more respectful because I was raised in that way of respect by my grandparents...
In my early childhood, the first 18 years of my life I was raised in a wigwam. I was raised by my grandparents. It was a beautiful way. I learned not to take advantage, take things for granted today. You know, you flip a switch and you've got lights. You turn a dial and you've got heat. . . I wished our children were brought up that way. Today everything's provided for them. Many of them are spoiled. You see all of the money is gaming and all these things coming for our people and it's sad. Some things are good. Other ways, I tend to find it's taking things for granted and there is the lazy way of doing things nowadays.
Kids don't want to go out and chop wood or haul wood anymore, haul water. They don't know what that is. They want to sit in front of the TV and play all these little games, all these video and all these different kinds of things. And it takes away from the most important thing. Doing things with our lives. Expressing themselves physically.
People are getting so that they don't want to work anymore. People take things for granted. I know gaming for my people has brought a lot of sickness. Guys used to work in the woods, logging... trapping, hunting...pursuing everyday life, our traditional way of life, but now, today, the advent of money is changing. Now we got diabetes and people don't want to work. Just sit in front of the TV and eat and drink. They don't want to work anymore. It's sad. But these are the kinds of things that are having an impact around the country. It's sad...
2004 has changed a lot of things...I used to go home for a particular reason, particularly to see people at home, Elders, stories, tradition, practising my faith, my way of life. Now today I've run out of reasons to go home. It's sad, because a lot of these guys are gone. But I still retain the old traditional teachings.
I go home and some people look at me and say 'Hey, that's old school. You're doing old school.' I say, 'What do you mean old school?' 'Well, we don't do things that way.' Excuse me? Hey, things like this aren't supposed to be changed. This is forever. What changed this? Money? Time? Laziness? What's causing this change? Because there are certain things that are never meant to be changed.
Gaming to my people has changed a lot of things because it's given us access to money, you know, material things. Some ways is kind of nice, but as far as our traditions it's kind of eroded a lot of that, people taking things for granted. And I'm sorry to say I don't really like it. I don't subject to the change. I just try to influence as much as I can.
Even language has changed a lot. I travel around a lot and I go home and I see slang has taken over a lot of my people. The old language, they say 'Oh, you talk the old language.' I say 'What do you mean?' Then I hear the people talking today. It sounds like a white man trying to talk our language. They are changing, trying to shorten the language... It's sad to say... It feels good to see that it is still alive, but it's changed. It's become, in my eyes, somewhat generic.
Language, the Indian language is something that you have to live. You're brought up that way. To learn it in a school, it becomes generic, because you are never really going to understand the essence of Indian language. . . Most of my language can never really be interpreted in the English language because there are no words for a lot of our spirits, a lot of what we talk about...
It's not only true in my tribe. I hear the Elders talking how much language has changed in their communities, in their areas. I can relate a lot of that even to powwow, how uch times have changed. They look at me as a dancer and say 'Oh, you're old school. You're old school.'
'What do you mean, old school?' There's only one way. It's always been-The respect for our veterans, respect of dance. The way it is, the essence of movement, the essence of balance, footwork. The old teachings... 2004, times have changed a lot of things.
...When I was in Morley [Alberta], I was quite honored and glad to see that they are still following the old ways. They had ceremonies, give-aways for painting of a person. Give-aways for the right to go and dance, the rights for the feather. These are all rights that take giving and sharing. Giving to the visitors, giving to the people.
We have a certain unwritten rule that we have in Indian country is never give to your relatives [in a public celebration.] I go to some celebration and that's all they give to is their relatives and the heck with the visitors. Visitors have always been put on a pedestal, always been put in front. You always acknowledge the visitors... When I go to certain lands, geez, they put you on a pedestal. They respect you. Then when they come to my land, I have to acknowledge and reciprocate by giving back to them. Take care of them in the same way. In other words, treat people the way you want to be treated.
Sorry to say, money has changed all of that. People are just giving to themselves and keeping among their own circles. Certain places it happens. It shouldn't be. Give away is always something you share.
I could never be a millionaire because I'm Indian. All of a sudden when I start winning too much, I get scared. I get scared because all at once I got all this money. It ain't meant to be, because there is balance. For all this winning, that means I have to give away, because, if I don't it means something is going to be given away from me on this side. What is the opposite of materialism and money? Spiritualism. You can be denied that.
It's very hard for me to see medicine man, a guy living off the fat of the land-a hundred horses and lots of money?calling himself a medicine man when he should be giving and sharing with the people. I know the spirit world. I guess you can say in religions around the world, I think has the same philosophy that we have. There is no difference. Again, when I have all that materialism, all that money, hey? It goes to the people. That's where that blessing comes from. To me, as a warrior, I see something nice, I have to give, pass it on to my women folks when I get home. Give it to my women relatives, because it gives me strength, gives me power as a warrior. For me to keep and horde everything, my ideals, my gods so to speak, become materialism and money. So I have to be careful to always give and share. . .
When you give for a right, otherwise a human life, we used to say a long time ago, give a horse. My son was initiated in September. I gave away three horses. One for a song, one was for the spirit of my son, because I want him to dance good. I want him to be better than me some day. Hopefully, he will accept the teachings, understand the old. Understand that. Never let that go. So I gave a horse for that spirit. I gave a horse for the drum. I gave a horse for that.
The essence of a horse has always been in the forefront of all give-aways long ago. Now, today, it's gone. They go and give tobacco. When someone gives you tobacco, tobacco means that I will take care of you. I will make sure that you will have a full stomach, I will make sure you have a place to sleep, I will make sure that when you go down that road, you are going to be happy, that you are being taken care of. That's what the essence of tobacco means. When someone gives you tobacco, that means 'I will take care of you.'
It doesn't mean that 'hey, I want $500. I want $1,000. I want $5,000.' You don't say that. You accept that [tobacco]. Once you accept that, you accept the things that are in front of you. In other word, you will be taken care of.
One of the hottest things in Indian Country today is whistles. Whistles belong to a society, the warrior society of long ago. Each society had a certain person who had a responsibility, one to take care of the drum keeper, one to take care of the dancers, the lead, the whip man. Then there was the whistle man. The whistle man was a person that, for the most part, was a warrior. Because when you called the spirits, the only person that called the spirits were the warriors. When you acknowledge that feather that fell on the ground, you are acknowledging the spirit. You bring one of my enemy to talk to them. You bring together. Whistles at a powwow, you have to have the right to do that. You have to have a human right to do that.
Long ago, societies you see in the Dakotas, Montana, certain places, there is always a human life that was exchanged. In other words, it's like the giving of a life to that feather. I would give a human life to that whistle.
I've given three whistles here in Canada, and they know who they are. They acknowledge and respect that. They feed the enemy periodically to gain that blessing. Whistle man should be very, very careful how he conducts himself at a powwow. When you blow that whistle, you are bringing spirits to that drum. And when you bring spirits, you remember, most importantly, when you bring the spirits you've got to feed them. You've got to give to them.
That spirit of that drum, many times, you acknowledge by giving them $50, $100. You will give them something that means a lot. Give the things that mean the most.
Anytime you conduct a give-away, you give the things that mean the most. Not something that, 'I don't have any more use for that. I'll put it in that pile and give it away.' Same thing when you acknowledge that drum, when you blow that whistle, you always give something very important. Maybe you may not have material things being that you are on the road, so you'll give $20. I'