Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Red Lake Hosts Fourth Annual Gathering of Elders

"Ezhi-apiitenimindwaa Gigichi-aya²aaminaanig"

Anishaa (Just for Fun) made up much of the agenda for the fourth year in a row as Red Lake hosted the Annual Gathering of Elders at Seven Clans Casino (Red Lake) on Monday and Tuesday, March 31 and April 1, 2014.

Red Lake Elders 55 and older came not only from reservation communities, but from Duluth and the Twin Cities. They were coming home, coming home to visit with relatives and long-time friends. An important part of the

Gathering has been to provide a venue for youth and elders to interact and learn from each other and do it anishaa. Red Lake youth mixed with elders as volunteers, serving meals, and providing information and entertainment.

Upon entering Seven Clans, the lobby was abuzz with with old friends catching up on the latest news. Some were lined up registering for the Gathering. They received a recyclable bag filled with agendas, information on laws and services available to elders, and an array of small gifts. The lime green bags, on which the familiar Gathering of Elders logo was imprinted, also included information on Constituional Reform efforts currently in process on the reservation.

Each registrant received a name tag written in a decorative hand, and a wrist strap serving as a meal ticket. Informational booths on tribal programs and services available for elders filled the available space on walls left and right. Some visited these displays, while others chatted on comfy couches and chairs at the center of the lobby.

Others already seated in the Event Center sipped coffee and nibbled away at a light breakfast. Entering the center and off to the right, "Gatherers" chose a souvenir T-shirt and signed a canvas wrap poster printed with the

logo of the 2014 Gathering of Elders. Later it would be valued piece among a plethora of door prizes.

Turning around, one saw the convention center filled with 219 registrants, in addition to volunteers, and event center workers with nary an empty chair available. Many young men and women scurried about visiting with and

assisting elders, highlighting again a key part of the Gathering, the mixing of youth and elders in intergenerational activities.

Monday, March 31, 2014

At 9 a.m., Spiritual/Cultural advisor, Miskwaanakwad/Red Cloud (Eugene Stillday) offered the invocation. Drum songs by Young Kingbird Mark Kingbird followed. A welcome by Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain, Jr. was next.

Co-Facilitators-Cheri Goodwin and Delwyn Holthusen, Jr., then took center stage describing the agenda for the next day and a half.

Goodwin described the talents and skills of those scheduled for key-note addresses. Key-note speakers included Tanaka Means, Gyasi Ross, and Jackie Bird, "along with a hundred other things," said Goodwin smiling.

Keynote Speech: Tatanka Means (Oglala Lakota) "Laughter is Good Medicine."

Means is an actor, stand-up comedian and motivational speaker. Recent movie credits include; "The Host," "A Million Ways to Die in The West," and "Tiger Eyes." Means guest stars in "Banshee on Cinemax," NBC's "The Night Shift," and ABC's new drama, "Killer Women." Means also performs stand-up comedy throughout the U.S. and Canada. He tours with the Native American Comedy group, "49 Laughs Comedy." Means is proud to be alcohol and drug-free.

Means was the first of many highlights to come, and today, Means would "bring the house" down with his gift for stand-up comedy. Means had his audience in stitches with his spot-on delivery of comedy relating to Native

American life on and off the reservation. When Means took the stage he sparked a beaming, energetic, and witty presence. He used his sense of humor and improv delivery to educate on Native American stereotypes.

Means made wry observations of American Indian habits putting a comedic spin on everyday activities and manner of speech. His insights into the story telling expression "Aaayyyyeeee" used by many American Indians was a

particular favorite.

Session 1

After a short break, Session 1 entitled "Red Lake Nation Youth Talent Showcase" began about 11 a.m.

First the Red Lake High School Girls Basketball Team (who missed state by one game) stood under the spotlight and introduced themselves one at a time. They were followed by state tournament participants, the Red Lake Boys team, who likewise introduced themselves. The girls then joined the boys on stage to a standing ovation from the proud elders. These hardworking role models would spend the next day and a half performing volunteer activities for the elders, both elder and youth teaching and sharing with the other.

Next up was a Red Lake Nation Royalty Dance Exhibition including Jingle dress, fancy shawl, grass, men's fancy, and other dances, all described by Johnny Smith.

Noel Zeller, a student at Trek North, then shared her beautiful singing voice in the A cappella style while using a cup as a percussion instrument.

Finally, high energy was generated by the young people of the Red Lake Dance Line who displayed near flawless choreographed movements with dancing silver pom-poms.

Lunch & Entertainment

Dozens of boys and girls basketball players then served 200 elders a light lunch in a quick and efficient manner. Diners were entertained by to the singing voice of Dana Bonga while seated at his electric piano.

In early afternoon, many participants took advantage of massages in the Bear Room, while photographer Gerry Auginash took family portraits in the Board Room.

Concurrently, organizer and co-emcee Cheri Goodwin presented "Traditional Family Values: What our Elders Say," while a slide show of historic photos - gathered by Georgia Downwind - were projected on opposite walls of the Event Center. The slide show ran throughout the event.

Jackie Bird, Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota, Hoop Dancer

A little after 2 p.m. an effervescent woman in colorful regalia stepped on the stage carrying many multi-colored hoops. This was Jackie Bird, animated and charming. Bird is not only a hoop dancer, but a singer, inspirational

speaker, fancy shawl dancer, designer, and artist.

"This dance has a different meaning for every tribe," Bird began. "For me, the dance is for healing. It has been passed down through my family from generation to generation. The hoops stand for the circle of life. Once it

was a male-dominant dance, but with the world in need of more healing, women have now joined in. Four hoops are used, each with a color of the four directions or peoples. Now it is modernized and some use 38 hoops."

Bird performs the story of creation with her hoops. In her performance, Bird easily displayed an ability to get the audience involved with her contemporary and traditional music, song and dance. One young man, after being wrapped in hoops so as to appear as bird, was instructed by Jackie to fly about the room, to which he happily obliged. Bird says that woven throughout her performance are the intricacies and belief of her Native American culture.

Bird says that everything she does emerges from a deep love for her culture and people and also because of a deep respect for the Creator. "I feel I have been given a responsibility by the Creator to be an example for youth.

As I continue to spend time with elders, learning from their wisdom and experiences, I hope to honor them and my family by sharing their values and teachings with all the people I meet," she said.

At about 4 o'clock, many participants took Limo Rides for a "Tour the Rez" excursion. Dinner music was provided again by Dana Bongah, while elders were served perch, roast beef, potatoes and gravy, wild rice, salad, fry bread, and blueberry and cherry crisp.

Late Night Session

In the evening people went their separate ways, but for those so inclined, the Late Night Session provided a little friendly competition for cash prizes. They included Black Jack, Cribbage, and Slot Tournaments. Little by little competitors were eliminated with the following results as winners of first, second, and third place prizes.


1st - Pat Defoe

2nd - George Clark

3rd - John Hanson


1st - Ardith Lussier

2nd - Robert Seki

3rd - Michael Beaulieu

4th - Arthur Bellanger

Black Jack

1st - George Clark

2nd - Earl Fairbanks

3rd - Douglas Roberts

There's always the die-hards, the late-nighters, the folks who shut off the lights, and this event was no exception, perhaps a dozen mushroom people circled a table drinking soda, water and telling old jokes. As is often the case, no matter years lived, the women were demure, the men bawdy. The kind of evening one remembers and feels warm about.

Tuesday, April 1, 2013

Following a light breakfast, an Opening Ceremony was again conducted by Miskwaanakwad (Eugene Stillday).

Keynote Speech: ¬ Gyasi Ross, (Blackfeet Tribe/Suquamish)

Ross is a father, writer, entrepreneur, and attorney. A graduate of Columbia Law School, Ross practices law representing tribes for Crowell Law Offices, and is co-owner and Vice-President of Red Vinyl Records. His first

book of short stories and poems, "Don¹t Know Much About Indians (but I wrote a book about us anyways)" was published in August 2011. Ross is a frequent contributor to Indian Country Today, and has contributed to the Seattle Times and Huffington Post.

Ross read poetry from one of his books, some very good stuff, upbeat and humorous, and often with food for thought. He spoke of the role of grandparents, of how important this elders gathering is, and its value to the young people involved.

At midmorning, elders were informed about "Endazhi-Ojibwemonotaadiying," the Master Apprentice Program, a new program concerned with language and cultural revitalization.

King & Queen Selection and the "Most" Awards

Goodwin then took the microphone and spoke of the popular and fun addition from the 2013 Gathering that continued this year, the selection of King and Queen. Last year's royalty was Mindimooye Ramona Manual and Akiwenzii Bill Spears. Prizes were awarded to those who scored highest in the following categories; Oldest Male, Oldest Female, Longest Married Couple, Most Grandkids, Traveled the Furthest, and Most people living in their home

The 2013 Mindimooye (female elder, literally "One who Holds Things Together) Ramona Manual and Akiwenzii (male elder, literally "Earth Protector") William "Bill" Spears, spoke to the crowd about how proud they were to

travel about and represent Red Lake during many events over the past year.

This was followed by the announcement of the 2014 king and queen. Elected were Mindimooye Sharon Columbus and Akiwenzii Duane Columbus who will represent Red Lake in that capacity over the next year.

The "Most" Awards

* Longest Marred - John Sr. and Donna Sumner

* Oldest Female - Dora Hart

* Oldest Male - Arnald Stand

* Furthest Traveled - Bill and Charlette Monette

* Most Grandkids - Johnny Smith

* Most People Living in the Home - Windy Downwind

Talent/Variety Show Winners

* 1st Place: Celia LittleCreek displayed her gift for quilting.

* 2nd Place: Archie King sang - with a perfect country twang ¬ a song called "BJ the DJ." He was accompanied by Johnny Smith on guitar.

* 3rd Place: Elizabeth Kingbird sang a beautiful song in Ojibwemowin.

* 4th Place: Windy Downwind, after tossing out several humous stories punch-lined often with "Aaayyyyeeee" played his song "Good Medicine" on the flute.

* 5th Place: Johnny Smith, accompanying himself on guitar sang "Smooth as Tennessee Whiskey" the classic western beat drawing whoops from the crowd.

Other participants were, Ramona Manual singing a heart-felt song, and finished off with a dance, and William Spears covered the classic Buddy Holly tune Peggy Sue with his electric guitar.

Many door prizes were quickly handed out, with nearly all winners in the room having stayed for the duration. A Closing Ceremony followed with Young Kingbird playing a Healing Song then a Traveling Song.

The 2014, Gathering of Elders is sponsored by the following Programs and Enterprises:

* Red Lake Tribal Council

* Red Lake Gaming Enterprises

* Red Lake Nation Fishery

* Comprehensive Health Dept.

* Red Lake EMT

* Red Lake Chemical Health

* Redby Community Coordinator

* New Beginnings

* Red Lake Vocational Rehab Program

* Red Lake IT Dept.

* Red Lake VFW Post

* Red Lake Nation Royalty

* Red Lake Youth Council

* Red Lake High School Girls Basketball Team

* Red Lake High School Boys Basketball Team

* Jourdain/Perpich Extended Care

"To all our sponsors and committees for making our gathering a success,

Chi-Miigwech!" ~Cheri Goodwin


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