Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Today's Adventures

We went up to Champaign today. Our early stops, in search of a game and clothes, did not pan out.

Supper was excellent, though. We went to Caribbean Grill. I got the $5 Flavor Box with jerk chicken, peas and rice, and fried plantains. The chicken and the rice were good, the plantains fantastic. Doug got the oxtails (a Friday special) which were also delicious. Dad got jerk salmon, which I did not care for -- all I could taste was smoke and pepper. :P They had a great ginger beer and a pineapple soda too. :D

Then we went to Krannert and watched Bizhiki Culture & Dance. This is an intertribal group primarily representing Ojibwe people from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada with some Lakota and other tribes thrown in. Aside from that little bit of Lakota, this is different from what I usually see, so while many of the powwow dance categories were familiar, some of the regalia and stories were different. That's oral tradition for you. The sneak-up dance that I know isn't generally shown in public, and they one they did was different. The woodland and grass dances were different. The grass dance I usually see is someone twirling about in a giant ball of yarn tassels. The men's fancy dance, women's fancy shawl dance, and jingle dress dance were familiar though.  There was a lot of audience participation, including a dance contest in which one old white fellow actually knew tribal dances.  He made a credible presentation of the men's traditional dance -- and stopped exactly on beat at the end of every round, which is a trick I can't do in this life.  I was impressed.  They had an excellent Drum too.  It was really interesting to get a glimpse of Ojibwe culture, since I write the Chippewa-Cree of Rocky Boy's.

We also got a bit of a language lesson. To show approval or agreement: "ho-WAH" (accent and high tone on the last syllable). This seems to serve the same purpose as "Aho!" which is more common in the Plains and Midwest. For something cute, or also when trying to get someone to go away and leave you alone: "oh-YAI." A response to a joke, or a greeting, or a variety of other purposes that make it a "useful linguistic noise," is "eyyy," which is the same as in Canadian, which made me wonder who borrowed it from whom.  I also learned that Omaha, as in the tribe, is customarily pronounced "Oh-MAH-ha."  I'll have to try and remember that.

They had some very memorable tribal art drawn on old documents, such as hotel registers and railroad passes, and one particularly brutal reference to boarding schools / concentration camps on a school document.

I was wearing one of my tribal T-shirts, which says "The drum connects our heart to the heart beat of Mother Earth." I got several positive comments on it. Back when I actually went to college there, people would hassle me for things like this. It's changing -- very slowly, but it's changing. This pleases me. I think cultural outreach programs like this are helping. Gods know, we pushed and shoved and nagged and bitched for decades, it ought to have come to something.

All told, it was a day well spent.
Tags: entertainment, ethnic studies, food, illinois, music, personal, spirituality
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