Friday, October 4, 2013

Native American Art and Dance Provides “Powwow Perspectives” in Bigfork


October will be a very colorful month at The Edge Center in Bigfork this year.  Featuring both Native American dance on stage October 11th and a Native American art gallery exhibit during the whole month, “Powwow Perspectives” showcase talent and art as unique as it is beautiful.  The art exhibit, which runs all month, offers photographs, painting, beadwork, and regalia. It includes an artists’ reception after which “The Great Anishinaabe Nation Drum & Dance Group” will perform a variety of Native American dances in the theatre. The artists’ reception is October 11, 5PM – 7PM, with the dance performance beginning at 7PM. Because of a generous grant from the Blandin Foundation, the dance event is free.  The Gallery exhibit from October 10 – November 2 can be visited during normal Gallery hours free of charge.


Delina White (purple dress dancer above) is the Manager and Artistic Director of The Great Anishinaabe Nation Drum & Dance Group. She says, “The drum and dance group has been traveling to local festivals and schools providing educational performances for all ages and audiences since 2001.  The pride of the Native American and First Nations people is displayed by color combinations of boldly designed traditional and contemporary dance outfits; uniquely designed for an individual inspired by dreams and visions…The dancers and singers provide an education of Anishinaabe / Ojibwe traditional values and beliefs by sharing a part of their cultural heritage through music and dance.”


The dances and performers from Northern Minnesota include:
Jingle Dress & Traditional (Crow) Dancer: Lavender Hunt, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, MN (Crow traditional dress not shown in the photos)
Grass Dancer:  Alexis Charging Horse Copenace, White Fish Bay, Ontario Canada
Traditional Woodland Dancer:  Ningozis “Gozy” White, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, MN
Fancy Shawl Dancer:  Sage Davis, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, MN
Singer & Drummer:  Sheldon Smith, Red Lake Nation, MN


The gallery exhibit, open all month, provides visitors a close look at the powwow experience with photography, beadwork, and paintings.  George Earth (above), an elder from the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, will formally introduce the “Powwow Perspectives” program during the Artists’ Reception. 


The photo of George Earth by Ivy Vaino (above) will be on display in the art exhibit. Two events in Ivy Vaino’s life shaped her life’s work.  The first was when she attended her first powwow with her mother as a senior in high school.  Ms. Vaino is a member of the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe.  She says, “I remember it very well…I was in awe knowing that this was part of my culture.”  The second was a chance to use a camera that same school year. “The one time I experienced working with cameras was when I took a photography class…I was fascinated by developing the film in the darkroom, but never really thought I’d want to do this as a hobby or a career.” Ivy started recording her culture and that of others, with a camera given to her by her husband.  “When I take photographs of cultural events, be it American Indian powwows, African American celebrations or Hmong New Year events, I feel that I am helping to document these events and helping to preserve the cultures.”


Steve Premo is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. His work can be seen in public spaces like the Mille Lacs and Hinkley Casinos, the Hinckley Fire Museum, and the Government and Health Care Centers.  He is a graphic designer for the Corporate Commission that runs the casinos.  He also creates fabric and carpet designs. Steve has been an important mentor to The Edge Center as it moves into the area of Native Artists.  Steve Premo’s work often includes dark, rich, colorful scenic views using light and shadow reminiscent of Rembrandt’s paintings.  He first saw Rembrandt’s work at the age of six, and it had a lasting impression. He studied art at the University of Minnesota, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and taught art at the Heart of the Earth Survival School, an American Indian Movement charter school.  The Minneapolis Public Schools’ Indian Education Department recruited Premo to be its graphics artist.


Delina White, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, is a traditional Anishinaabe / Ojibwe Woodland floral design beadwork artist, as well as the above mentioned dancer and choreographer.  She combines beads and fabric to make traditional attire and accessories. She learned how to make color coordinated patterns into beaded handbags from her grandmother Maggie King from Onigum, starting at age six. Her beadwork and appliqué designs are representative of the beautiful surroundings of the Great Lakes region.  Delina is a 2010 Bush Foundation Artist Fellow, and lives in the traditional village of Inger (Chachabaaning) on the Leech Lake Reservation.  Delina is also an old-style, Jingle-dress dancer. She has combined her experience and knowledge of Native American / First Nations dancing and singing in the powwow arena with her business sense and is the  manager and artistic director for the Great Anishinaabe Nation Drum & Dance group.

Ivy Vainio Photographs



Delina White Bead Work


Steve Premo Paintings Sketches


One of Steve Premo’s murals is at the Hinckley Fire Museum. It commemorates the great Hinckley Fire of 1894, which produced a firestorm that incinerated hundreds of square miles and killed more than 400 people. The mural shows the rescue of a family by a young Ojibwe woman. The rescuer was a Mille Lacs Band member and her full name was Mahkahdaygwon. Her English name was Katherine Wadena McDonnell.


Using her canoe, Mahkahdaygwon rescued the women and two children from the lake, sheltered, and fed them at her home and even made them moccasins because they lost their shoes. The rescue was during the day, but it was dark and smoky with fire threatening. One of the children was Frank Patrick who often told the story of the fire and his rescue at the Hinckley Fire Museum.  The cinder burned blanket is part of the museum collection. Read more at: http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/199909/29_engerl_mural-m/

About that project, Steve Premo says, “There's a lot of misunderstanding between the two cultures. What interested me was trying to reach out from a band-member standpoint and give something to the community. One of the questions I keep asking is: ‘Why does great adversity have to show itself before two cultures come together?’ It shouldn't take a Hinckley Fire.”


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