Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Red Lake Band of the Chippewa

This ramble started as a memory of the greatest basketball game ever played in the Minnesota State Tournament, the Wabasso Rabbits versus the Red Lake Warriors in 1997. The St.Paul Civic Center was packed with thousands of Native Americans in traditional garb, with drums and rattles, from all over the Midwest. The Warriors, an all tribal team, were trailing by 18 points with 4 minutes to go, when sophomore Gerald Kingbird took over and lit up the house with three point shots, taking the game into overtime. Red Lake's lack of depth eventually caught up with their legs and Wabasso won 113 to 117. One hell of a basketball game!

The sketch is Royce Kingbird, a Golden Age master dancer. His home, the Red Lake Rez is large, bigger than Rhode Island, and all tribally owned. After high school, Gerald Kingbird left the Rez for college, but later drifted back to Red Lake to teach high school. He was there in 2005, when there was a horrendous shooting at the Red Lake High School that left 10 people dead. It seemed to be a galvanizing event for the tribe. When I did a YouTube search on "Red Lake Kingbird", I found a number of powwow tapes and these are way better than even a great basketball game. Red Lake Anishinaabe. Go Warriors!

There are about 5000 people living in Red Lake and that many and more of the band living in Minneapolis. Damned if they don't look better and happier at Red Lake. Of course this is a celebration. We're all happier celebrating with family and friends.


Justine Valinotti said...

I love the tape! It reminds me that the greatest expressions of communal art are cries and dances of ecstasy.

It also reminded me that communal and public art is looked down upon by much of the academic and arts establishments (though not necessarily by artists themselves). In the West, we've developed a notion of art as being produced by isolated, alienated individuals. The more isolated and alienated the producer is, the greater the mystique about it. That way of thinking seems absent from Native American art and performance, which I find refreshing.

Justine Valinotti said...

BTW: Gunnar, I hope you and your loved ones have peace, happiness and prosperity in this season.

Mimbres Man said...

Always inspiring to see leaders coming back to the community.
I taught on the Navajo Reservation for a total of 8 years before coming overseas to teach. I still miss the Rez and its rich culture, and its wonderful people.