I spent this past Saturday at the Cowboy Festival and Symposium at the Booth Western Art Museum (could the name be any longer?). This was my fourth year going, so it's starting to feel like a second home. It's always really fun--and it gives you a chance to wear those ridiculous boots and other western wear that's been in your closet forever (just admit it, we all know it's there).
What does one do at a cowboy festival and symposium, you may ask? You can watch the many demonstrations and reenactments (from roping to quick-draw to the O.K Corral gun fight), shop amongst the various venders (hand made jewelry, paintings, scarves, etc.), eat some delicious food (can you say, funnel cake?), and eventually browse around the museum.
But you may be wondering what all of this has to do with my title, "Go Native!". Well, my favorite part of the festival isn't even mentioned in the name. The Native American show and dancing. Creek and Comanche Native Americans, to be exact. Little Big Mountain (Comanche) and Jim Sawgrass (Creek) and their friends and families come to the festival every year to explain some common misconceptions about Native Americans and also showcase some amazing talent, dancing being the main attraction.
There are many different styles of dance, such as the fancy shawl dance, the fancy feathers dance, hoop dance, etc. The hoop dance (this) is my favorite. They can make it look so easy, but most of the guys that do it have been doing it since they were little kids (think, 5 years old). Nowadays, many styles of dancing are done competitively at Pow Wows (Native American "get togethers" with food, singing, and dancing).
One new dance (well, new to us) this year was preformed by Jim Sawgrass' son (who is also an amazing hoop dancer). This dance was "given" to Little Big Mountain's family. By "given" I mean they were given the right to preform this dance. In their culture, you're not allowed to just take other people's/tribe's dances, you have to be given permission to learn them. I actually forgot what it's called...but it's based on a legend, and that, I remember.
This dance is about the great eagle, a creature that can soar higher and longer than any other animal. It is believed that the eagle was once completely snow white. One day, the eagle decides to fly to the sun, to prove himself mightier than any other creature. Before embarking on his journey, he bows and prays in all directions, north, south, east, and west. Then he takes off, soaring higher and higher into the sky. As he begins to get closer to the sun, his feathers start to burn and turn brown. His eyes turn golden from looking at the sun. He eventually gives up, knowing he can never reach the sun. He flies back down to earth, and rests.
The dance is really amazing to watch, with the music and knowing the legend.
I've always felt some connection to Native American culture, even though I'm only small fraction of Crow (Apsáalooke) indian. I'm honored to have even just a fraction of native blood in me. But I believe there is more in me somewhere along my family tree.
So that's what I did this past Saturday. It was a blast. (:
Click here to visit the Booth Western Art Museum website
And here to visit Little Big Mountain and Jim Sawgrass' website.
Here are just a fraction of the many pictures I took.
This was the best picture I could get at the time. (Jim Sawgrass' son hoop dancing)
You can't tell in this picture, but the beading on his clothing has texture to it
This is completely made out of paper
Love this one (:
Little Big Mountain, Jim Sawgrass' son, and Jim Sawgrass
I couldn't get good pictures of the hoop dancing because he moves so fast!