It was a pleasant surprise, recently, to encounter First Nations dance, singing and drumming at the annual Calgary Spaghetti Western Festival. I found the love song that Morley Redwood sang solo to be both haunting and beautiful. Not typically performed solo, I thought that Morley was courageous to sing with such spirit, in front of an audience at Olympic Plaza. I’m also posting a YouTube where Morley is joined by other drummers and singers so that my readers can see the depth of sound as several drummers and singers join.
Recently a group of First Nations singers has gone viral on YouTube. This particular performance echoes, but is different from a Buffy-Ste-Marie tune that I used to listen to while painting.
Morley Redwood is Assiniboine/Cree from Cowessess First Nation, located in Saskatchewan. He has been singing all of his life and competing extensively. He has his own group called Bear Spirit. Singing is his passion in life and it has taken him across North America as well as Australia and England.
From the Saskatchewan Encyclopedia…the following…
Chief Cowessess (Ka-wezauce, “Little Boy”) adhered to Treaty 4 on September 15, 1874, on the Hudson’s Bay Company reserve, at the southeastern end of Echo Lake, with his Saulteaux, Cree, and Métis followers. They remained nomadic until 1878–79, when they began Farming near Maple Creek in the Cypress Hills, and in 1880 a reserve was surveyed for them at Crooked Lake. While several band members settled there under O’Soup, Cowessess and his followers remained in the Hills until the spring of 1883. Education was always a priority: the first log school house was built in 1880 by the Oblate fathers; Cowessess Indian residential school opened in 1898; and Lakeside Day School was built in 1934. The Roman Catholic Mission was called Crooked Lake Mission until the community was granted a post office under the name Marieval in 1908. The 21,488-ha Cowessess Reserve is 13 km northwest of Broadview, and an additional 257.1-ha reserve (73A) is situated 31 km west of Esterhazy. There are 3,266 band members, 597 of whom live on reserve.