By Roy Cook
Vickie Gambala coordinates the Soaring Eagles dancers. We were pleased to have over twenty-five adult dancers in regalia for the special one-hour presentation at the Marriott Hotel on August 14, 2010. This was some sort of counselors’ conference this weekend. Preston Chips and Shirley Murphy were attendees of the conference.
There is a Hisatsinom story that relates the Eagle being asked what can it bring to the people? What ceremony or power will assist the people? The Eagle said, “Our guardian spirit commands all the upper air. He is the master of insight. His is the watchful eye that will lookout for people that would try to overpower and take away our knowledge. His are the feathers that carry our thoughts and prayers to our Father.” Some tribal groups have restrictions on a specific bird while at the same time that same bird may be held in high regard by another tribal group of people. These specific questions are best left to your elders and tribal culture bearers.
SCAIR American Indian dance instructor, Edward ‘Chuck’ Cadotte was an Emcee/presenter at this event. The Soaring Eagle dancers were brought in with a grand entry format. The dancers filed in to the circle in this order: Men Traditional Dancers in front, Grass dancers, Women Traditional: Women’s Traditional Northern style is danced by remaining in one spot, lightly bouncing in rhythm with the drum.
Southern style has the women slowly and gracefully walking around the Circle in time with the drum, gently stepping toe-heel, toe-heel with the feet appearing to “walk on clouds”. Both styles carry a fringed shawl folded over their bent left arm, a purse in their left hand, and a feather fan, usually eagle or hawk, in their right hand. The women hold themselves tall and proud, their bodies straight. The fringe on the shawl is to sway naturally with the movements of the women’s feet, not from upper body bending or swinging. The fan is raised in salute when the women hear the drum giving honor beats.
Fancy Shawl Dancers next, followed by the Jingle Dancers. There are a few different versions of the origin story of the jingle dress, but all of them seem to agree that the jingle dress originated in a dream. An Ojibwa man had a dream in which he was given instructions for the dress and dance. He and his wife made the dresses and selected four women to wear them at the next dance. In another version of the story, the man’s granddaughter was very ill. She wore the dress and then regained her health. Also, there was a special Chicken dance with historical context.
The SCAIR sponsored Soaring Eagles American Indian dancers received appropriate song support from the San Diego Inter-tribal singers: Roy Cook, Ben Nance and Ernie Walton. The drum is an important instrument for Indian people, giving both rhythm and meaning to life. It provides the beat for dancers to proudly offer their thanks and praise to the Creator during ceremonies. It is a way of carrying songs and prayers to the Creator and healing the sick. The tradition of the drum is important today and is a way of bringing Tribal People together.
As Indian people, we always know we are special but to be cheered and applauded when we look great and feel good goes a long way to bolster ones self-esteem. We look forward to future opportunities for the Soaring Eagles dancers to feel good being what we are, Indian people. We thank Abel Jacome for these pictures.