Native American Profile – Alex Smith
Alex Eugene Smith
I have a name that only my closest bro’s call me and my family has called me since I was an itty-bitty guy. I’m too shy to put it out there so when you see me, just ask me lol.
Sac & Fox, Pawnee, Otoe and Osage.
WHAT STYLE DO YOU SING:
WHERE ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM:
I was born in Rapid City, SD and grew up in Pawnee, OK.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW:
Finally bought a home in Oklahoma City last year with one of them mussy HUD 184 loans (if I can do it, anyone can)! I live with my girlfriend Stacey, my son, Nathan (2) and 2 stepdaughters, Ryanne (10) and Romy (6).
WHAT IS YOUR UPCOMING POWWOW SCHEDULE:
It looks like I’ll be hitting all the HOT Oklahoma powwows. Looking forward to Tulsa powwow (inside w/ cold AC) last weekend in July, where my brother Hyde Toppah will be head singer and sister Jessica Moore is head lady. Should be a good one!
ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE PROJECTS/ALBUMS:
I’ve actually been asked to be a part of Kit Landry’s compilation album to be released next year (maybe lol). I really wished I could share the names of artists involved in this project, but I will say they are well-known well-respected singers/songwriters. I’m very honored and excited to get to be a part of this album and truth be told, a little nervous. I’ll be the lone southern singer amongst some awesome northern singers!
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE POWWOWS:
I would have to say Stroud, OK and Prairie Island, MN are 2 of my fav’s, but they actually fall on the exact same weekend…so that’s kinda scabby. Shakopee, San Manuel and Gathering of Nations(although expensive to go there) are some pretty good ones too, always good singing there. I also gotta mention Mayetta, KS, where my brothers Thunder Hill first sat up, even though it’s a storm/tornado magnet! I was blessed to be a part of 2 really good powwow recordings at Mayetta….1 with Thunder Hill and the other with Sizzortail/Bear Creek. Good singing and good memories!
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE DRUMS:
Geez, there’s quite a few on my list but I’ll try and keep it short lol. Northern Cree, TBZ, Bear Creek, Whitefish Jr’s, Midnite Express, Black Lodge, Pipestone, Meskwaki Nation, Red Bull and Battle River to name a few….I like to jam to all the Southern drums from here in Oklahoma! Aho boys for the excellent tunes!
WHO ARE SOME OTHER SINGERS YOU ADMIRE:
First and foremost I would have to say my grandpa’s, the late Ted Moore, Sr. and the late John Whiteshirt, Sr. They both taught me a lot even before I picked up a drum stick. They were always so willing to share stories with me on certain songs. Looking back on our conversations now, I wish I would have listened more or had my recorder on. I miss them a lot these days. I want to thank Joe Fish Dupoint, Jimmy Kemble, my irari Glen Ahhaitty, and my uncle Gene Logan for their words of advice and knowledge throughout the years. My irari, the late Perry Lee Botone, or “Hites” as he used to call me, was a good one. I think his songs are still to this day, some of the best original southern songs I’ve ever heard. I want to mention a couple bro’z from out West that I hardly ever get to see, but I always admired just for the way they carried themselves around their drum and family. They have always been respectful to themselves and others and that is my Southern Outlawz brothers, JR and Derrick Keeswood. Hoka brothers, keep on jamming out there! Also want to thank my cousins Curt and Juaquin Hamilton for showing me the ropes and showing me there was such a thing as a powwow OUTSIDE OF OKLAHOMA haha. They used to ask me to travel with them all the time back in the day, but living in Oklahoma all my life, I wondered why when all the Natives lived all around me. Eventually I gave in and started jamming and traveling……the rest is history. ?
WHAT TRANSPORTATION DO YOU USE TO GET TO POWWOWS:
My black Journey. Tell you the truth, if I can afford or score a plane ticket there, I’m all over it. I just like getting to where I’m going to as fast as possible lol.
WILL GAS PRICES OR OTHER OBLIGATIONS AFFECT YOUR POWWOW SCHEDULE:
Actually, I seen them coming down a bit, slowly but surely. Work, school and family(my son) keeps me pretty busy so it’s harder to travel but living in Oklahoma we always have lots of powwows to hit on the weekends.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC? FAVORITE ARTISTS:
If it’s Native music, I would listen to almost anything. If it’s Mainstream music, I like all the singer-songwriter types…..one of my favorites being “The Eagles” (always keep one of their CD’s in the changer). I also like most of the Motown R&B artists and the 90’s R&B groups. Pretty much anything with a good tune and lyrics, well anything besides the autotune stuff out there.
WHAT OTHER DOMESTIC SKILLS DO YOU HAVE:
Well being a full-blown family man I would have to say I’ve become a regular Mr. Fix-it around the house! It feels pretty good to work hard on something that is your own and see the end result from day to day….even if my muscles are sore for a few days after lol. I’m going to go ahead and throw “GRILLING” in there too. Grilled steak kabobs with roasted corn, wild rice and baked potatoes…..WHEW WEE!
WHAT’S YOUR DAY JOB OR TRADE:
I’ve been doing Graphic Design since 2003. It’s an industry that’s always evolving and upgrading so it keeps me on my toes and I love it. It’s been nice meeting a lot of really good graphic artists in this field, some with many honors and awards for their work. Rusty Gillette, Bunky Echohawk, Ryan Redcorn, Miguel Ewing and Corey Barker are some of my favorites.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN NOT AT A POWWOW:
Spending time with my family mostly, doing all sorts of things like camping, swimming, fishing or just spending time out and away from phones, computers and TV’s (which is something I’ve come to appreciate even more since I have become a Father). My son Nathan is almost 2 years old now and he does something new everyday, MOST OF IT FUNNY, and manages to keep us all laughing. He uses anything that looks like a drum stick or is shaped like a drum stick to beat on things (really trying to sing, too). His favorite make shift stick now is a Q-tip, I guess cuz it looks like a little mini drum stick? Sure would be keen if one of his uncles could hook him up with a real one lol.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FOOD:
Home-cooked spaghetti and homemade chicken and noodles! Throw some pepper and cheese sprinkles on em and GOODNESS (see it’s the little things)! See question 14.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUNG PEOPLE THAT LOOK UP TO YOU:
It would probably be the same advice to myself as a young man:
- No one can make you be self-disciplined. As a man, you will always have to do things you don’t want to do. Suck it up.
- Never lose control, except on purpose. Some fights you win only if you don’t fight. Never hate your enemies; it clouds your judgement.
- Your parents used to be cool before you came along.
- If you’re not failing, you’re not trying to succeed. Make your life your work, not your work your life.
- Money is never an indicator of success. Money is a good servant, but a brutal master.
- Learn from the mistakes of others – you don’t have time to make them all yourself.
- Your education does not start until school ends. Stay focused on YOUR goals and not impressed by another’s.
- Remember two words….. accountability and gratitude.
HOW ABOUT BEST SINGING ADVICE:
There are numerous songs, all with different words and meanings behind them. Don’t just learn the tunes, learn the story behind them. My grandpa used to tell me, “Learning those songs is just as important as learning to speak your own tribal language. You give honor not only to our Creator, but to all our people and family when you sing those songs and do it with a good heart.”
WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE POWWOW MOMENT:
Geez, this one made me think lol. Schemitzun 2000 Powwow was a pretty memorable one. Young Bird took Southern & Overall Drum Contest that year and I nearly fainted as they were announcing winners. I had to sneak off to the car and lay down to calm my nerves. I didn’t know we won till they came and knocked on the car window. I think that’s the same powwow YoungBird got stomped in the Drum Group Basketball Tournament! I wish I could get my hands on that recording. Some of us couldn’t even fit the net jerseys they gave us, much less run the floor lol. On a sad note, another memory was at GON Powwow the year my bro Daryl Jack and his daughter Purdy passed. Cheevers, Kit and I sang “Purdy’s Word”, a song Cheevers composed in memory of Daryl and Maliah “Purdy” Jack that year for Willow Jack’s special. It was the hardest song I’ve ever had to sing in my life. I only hope that it brought some comfort and healing to the family.
POWWOW PET PEEVES:
The Spirit of Competition at Powwows can get carried away sometimes. It shows peoples true colors, especially when they carry grudges. I’ve seen certain individuals get called on to judge certain drum groups that they do not like and give them low scores on purpose, even to go so far as turning away from the drum group as they sing during their contest.
THINGS YOU WISH YOU COULD TAKE OUT OF POWWOWS:
ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE OR WANT TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOURSELF:
I am very thankful and am truly a happier person now. Overall, I am healthier now than I’ve ever been in my entire life and I did it by rearranging my priorities. It’s cool being a proud Daddy, dedicated family man with a career experiencing life at it’s fullest through the eyes of sobriety. Now in the morning I wake up grateful and motivated to be a better man for my baby boy and feel pride in the peace he knows from the relationship he and I have that I didn’t get to experience with my own Father. A few people have asked where I have been so I hope reading this answers that. I’m still around singing and working on songs, I just pushed my health and taking care of my family and responsibilities to a higher priority than it was a few years ago. Aho and I’ll see ya’ll down the road! GOD BLESS!
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