By Roy Cook
Soaring Eagle mentor Ben Nance has been to Grandmother country and danced at the First annual Graduation Pow wow at Griffiths Stadium in Potash Corp Park on the University of Saskatchewan Campus, Saskatoon, SK. gathering in 2010. A casual encounter and invitation resulted in this special visit to Saskatchewan and the many groups of Cree and Dakota people.
Ben was asked to lead the dancers in one of the Grand Entries behind the honored High School Graduates.
He and his wife also attended the Wanuskewin Heritage Park. They viewed this statement:
In all First Nations cultures, song and dance played an integral role in demonstrating hospitality to visitors and celebrating events of significance. Few of the early immigrants to North America acquired an appreciation for First Nations song and dance. In general they were viewed as archaic and many perceived First Nations song and dance to be central to war rituals. These perceptions have carried forward to the present and it has only been in recent decades that they have gained some recognition as legitimate forms of song and dance.
He remarked that, “The Northern Round dance is a very strong aspect of song in many of the Northern communities.” They were there when a group of multi-aged students were being taught the hoop dance. Later, Ben saw some of these same dancers on the pow wow arena.
Ben has sung with Northern and Southern drum groups. As a young dancer in elementary school, he met with Judge Fred Gaborie. He often was featured in the Horsetail Dance that was popular in that 1950s era. Fred also introduced him to American Indian cultural experiences by attending Pow wows around the Los Angeles area. Later on, being near the film studios and the Boy Scouts, he worked with the late Iron Eyes Cody and his son ‘Tree’ Cody. He continued to be part of dance groups through High school.
Later in life, his interest in American Indian culture continued in San Diego. With a little encouragement, he entered into the 1980’s pow wow circle. Most recently, upon invitation, he participates in singing Wildcat with Jon Meza Cuero and sings with Ron Christman’s family group. These past several years he’s studied Southern California Tukuk and other styles of local song. To this goal, he attended, DQ University-Sycuan, Tribal Kumeyaay culture classes. Ben said, “I enjoyed singing with the Red Warrior drum and I hope all had a great weekend at the Soaring Eagle Pow wow. Keep the tradition alive, keep dancing!”