Where are you, Morley Redwood?

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.

Bear Spirit Painting Borrowed from Morley Redwood.

Bear Spirit Painting Borrowed from Morley Redwood.

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.

Where are you Craig First Rider?

We had just stepped out of the M. C. Escher exhibit and Buzz Elroy was entertaining the crowd down at the Olympic Plaza. It was the weekend for the 6th Annual Spaghetti Western Festival. Sitting under the awning, the three of us were just taking in the goings-on when I was certain I recognized a man, dressed in First Nations dance regalia.  I spoke out loud to my friends, “I think that’s a former student of Holy Cross, Craig First Rider.”

Sure enough, once introduced by the MC, I heard his name.

I met Craig back in the days when I taught at Holy Cross School in Calgary.  I saw him as a young boy, dancing the Fancy Dance for our school population and community.  I was big on coordinating huge festivals in the day, given our huge multicultural population.

When I met him down at Calgary’s sixth annual Spaghetti Western Festival, I was in awe of the man he has become and impressed that he has now danced for over 35 years.  This was a fantastic addition to Calgary’s Spaghetti Western Festival and we enjoyed three demonstrations after Maddison Krebs (excellent and very entertaining for a sixteen year old) and Buzz Elroy (dawning a great hat) and before Angela Harris.

I’m very proud of you, Craig and hope that we can speak again and I can be updated on your accomplishments over the years.

 

 

Craig First Rider and Keegan Buffalo

Craig First Rider and Keegan Buffalo

Craig First Rider

Craig First Rider

Craig First Rider and Keegan and Kasha Buffalo

Craig First Rider and Keegan and Kasha Buffalo