March 1st, 2015 Last Updated on: March 1st, 2015
Donald Keeble lives a clean, sober life as a Traditional Dancer, a scholar and an educator. He's a prominent presence on the Powwow Trail, but Forest County Potawatomi Rez is always home. He shares his dance style and the stories it contains in this delightful visit.
Interview by Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor
Dawn: Great to visit with you! Please introduce yourselves to us? What would you like us to know about you?
Donald: Thigwe neshnabe noswen…..- Jigwes is my indian name….. anake – or -Donald ktthe mokman noswenn- is my big knife name. Mko ndodem – bear is my clan.
Bozho! My name is Donald Keeble. Born and raised in Carter, WI on Forest County Potawatomi Rez. I have my Bachelor's Degree in First Nation Studies from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Recently, I finished my alcohol and drug certification from Milwaukee area technical college and planning on my Master’s degree at Hazelden for co-occurring disorder. I currently working for forest county Potawatomi in Education. Along with that, I have been clean and sober for over 8 years. My parents are Jeff and Betty Jo Keeble and I have 3 younger siblings. Their names are Jeffrey Keeble (one36photo), Lyle Keeble (UWGB student) and Presley (HS student). My grandparents are Pete and Birdie Pemma, Yvonne (Shorty) Smith and Dave Keeble.
Dawn: Such a tremendous legacy! How did you choose your dance style?
Donald: Men’s Traditional always peaked my interest as a kid. I would practice grass and fancy as a kid in my basement but never gave me the feeling as when I practiced traditional. Before all this, my aunt Ruthie showed me how to dance by a 1, 2 method with each leg. My grandparents and elders told me to tell a story when I’m out there and dance what my clan is. My parents made me some regalia when I was younger and eventually some of the community started giving me stuff, because they saw that me wanting to dance at powwows would not be one and done type of hobby. Then, when I outgrew the regalia, we gave it to another dancer. Respect and gratitude.
Dawn:Regalia is such personal part of dancing! How does your regalia impact your life?
Donald: It's part of my story and can reflect life also. I go into schools and tell the story of my regalia and how life can reflect that. I talk about my alcohol and drug years to hurting people all those years. Then, I talk about living the good life and choices we have. My regalia shows my life because today I still make mistakes. One of the most important things is I dance for the people that are not able to and are not here anymore. Also, when am in that circle listening to the drum and laughter around me, it’s one of the few places where I’m in living in the moment and thinking of nothing else.
Dawn: Since powwows are such a vibrant part of your life, how does your tribal identity shape your worldview?
Donald: I'm enrolled Forest County Potawatomi. We are known as the Neshnabek (original people),who were once a large group that split into three groups. Ojibwe (keeper of the faith), Odawa (keeper of the trade), and Bodwewadomi (Keeper of the Fire). There are nine bands of Potawatomi. Recently, I just moved back home, so a few things I've done have been talking with the elders and starting to learn again who we are as people. Learning our ceremonies and something as basic as learning to pray and be thankful for everything around us.
Dawn: Great things happen when we seek out the old paths and they happen in the Circle as well! Do you have some wise words for aspiring Powwow dancers?
Donald: Don't be shy…go out there. People love watching others dance, especially someone that's just starting. Once you get past the fear of going out there, people at the powwow will be the encouragement. Watch the feet of a dancer that dances your style. One of the powerful things at a powwow is the youth. When I see all the youth out there, I see our leaders and know that we are in good hands.
Dawn: Thanks for visiting with us today!
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