Blue Feather – Building Camaraderie Through Pow Wow

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown March 30th, 2015 Last Updated on: March 30th, 2015

Yale News recently featured the relatively new student group on campus, Blue Feather. Through their love of pow wow music and dance, these Yale students found a way to beat the homesick blues and adjust to life on campus.

As a freshman, Reed Bobroff ’16 went through a period of adjustment at Yale when he felt pretty homesick for his family and friends back home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

He thought he might find solace if he could sing and drum in the powwow style that he had learned as a member of a club at his high school, the Native American Community Academy. But he had left his handcrafted drum at home, so he limited himself to singing powwow songs while alone in the Ezra Stiles College music room.

Not long afterward, Bobroff, who is Navajo, told his new friend Sebastian Medina-Tayac ’16 about his solitary singing. Medina-Tayac suggested that he join Bobroff for a bit of drumming.

A member of the Piscataway Nation, Medina-Tayac had never before participated in powwow singing or drumming, but had grown up playing drums at his tribe’s traditional ceremonial and spiritual gatherings. He, too, had left his drum at home in Maryland, so he and Bobroff instead tapped wooden drumsticks on a leather-topped piano bench in the music room.

The laughter and comfort Bobroff and Medina-Tayac shared as they taught each other different styles of drumming singing led to a feeling of deep camaraderie between the two Yale students. They soon learned that another student, Dinée Dorame ’15 (whose heritage is Navajo, Mexican and Yacqui Indian), wanted to perform the “fancy shawl” powwow dancing she had learned as a child back home in New Mexico. Eager to share their song and dance, the three co-founded Blue Feather, the first-ever formal powwow group at Yale.

So glad that these students found each other! It's always important to have a support network and a safe place to go while you're away at college.

If you're on the Yale campus, make sure you check out Blue Feather. You can follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bluefeatheryale & YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bluefeatheryale.

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About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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