January 21st, 2014 Last Updated on: January 21st, 2014
While some folks see powwows as a place to go during the summers, others consider powwows to be a life-long pursuit. Miyo One Arrow devotes his life to singing, and lives it in a manner worthy of his dedication to the Drum. Recently, this popular Powwow Singer offered his opinions on a life spent among his culture and traditions.
Q) Thanks for joining us! Will you please introduce yourself to us?What do you want us to know about you?
Q) You embrace your Native culture and Identity through Singing. How do you describe your life as a Singer?
A) Singing means a lot because I not only sing just at pow wows, but in ceremonies, for different events for the public, and even while hanging out at home, humming a song or remembering an old tune, so it's an every day thing for me.
Q) How do you encourage the next generation in our precious Native culture and traditions?
A) If there is someone interested in sitting at the drum, wanting to learn to sing, get advice to know the types of songs, and learn the meanings behind the song, dance, drum, and the language of the song. I learned a lot of the language through song. Also, definitely respect the spirit of the drum and the gift of the voice.
A) Yes, I have won some championships here and there, but I don't think I can hold the title of “champion” until I have fulfilled my personal goals. A lot of practice helped. I was taught by my uncle, Wayne Hunter, in my basement, and sang a song over and over, maybe about 8 to 10 starts, and learned what the songs meant in our language. With other drum groups, I had to learn songs in another language, and sometimes had to learn the songs on the spot. The most important thing is, is practice.
Q) What makes a Powwow Singer a good one? What might prove to be detrimental?
A) First of all, I think attitude around the drum is important. If you have a good attitude around the drum, learn knew songs, make new songs, be prompt and on time, and have a lot of communication with your fellow singers sitting around the drum, those are some good qualities. Some destructive qualities of a pow-wow singer are, having drugs and alcohol, having promptness, being controlling, and having lack of communication. It's up to the singer how much they want to advance, whether as a career or as a hobby, and how far you want to travel with your voice.
Q) Do you have any favorite Drum Groups or Singers?
A) I don't have a favorite drum group in particular; I have favorite singers and song makers. There are only a few groups that I like, but there are certain reasons why I like these groups. The qualities I look for in a group are having same core singers, making new songs, putting out records, having a unique style, and traveling. These groups have a certain consistency that I like. These groups would be, Wildhorse (Canada), Young Spirit, Northern Cree, Young Scouts, Bear Creek, Whitefish Jrs, Blacklodge, and Young Kingbird… and of course, I dig the classics: Eyabay, Stoney Park, Red Bull, High Noon, etc.
Q) If you could offer any advice to someone who would like to learn more and possibly start singing at powwows, what would it be?
A) Buy a recorder! Record as many groups in your travels to pow wows, and talk to singers and pick their brain by asking them why they sit at the drum. While sitting at home, listen to the songs and study them, and distinguish the style, figure out what kind of style of voice you want. Practice a lot, and if there's a group you can begin with, gain as much advice from the singers as possible. Most of all: practice, practice, practice!
A) One of the main things would be to not sit at the drum while under the influence. Also, not to be demanding. Don't sit at the drum just for money or “snagging.” If you're not willing to understand the role of sitting at the drum, living our culture and way of life, and don't have the intentions to respect the drum, step back until you understand. If you're going to sit at the drum, it's a group effort, and you have to be willing to be part of that group.
Q) What would you like us to know that we don't already know about you?
A) Right now, my fiance, Tiana Spotted Thunder, and I are working on our new release. It will have different types of songs on there that will showcase us as musicians and the different types of music we make. I was in a band called The Reddmen from '95-2011, and I am currently playing drums for Friends of Cesar Romero.
Q) Thank you so much for your time today! Where can we learn more about you and enjoy your singing!
A) Here are the links to any of my works as a musician/singer:
Dr. Dawn Karima is the author of two novels, THE MARRIAGE OF SAINTS (University of Oklahoma Press) and THE WAY WE MAKE SENSE (Aunt Lute Press).
Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture »