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WARRIOR WOMAN: Michelle FlyingMan’s Heroic Life

Posted By PowWows.com November 11th, 2014 Last Updated on: November 11th, 2014

 

Warrior Woman!

Warrior Woman!

Interview by Dr Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor

Q) Thank you for your service! You are truly a mighty Warrior Woman! Tell us about your Native heritage?

A) I am from the Kiowa and Southern Cheyenne tribes of Oklahoma.

Q) How does such a proud legacy shape your life?

A) On my Kiowa side, I am a descendant of the last war chief of our tribe, Satanta or “White Bear”. I think that warrior spirit runs very deep in many Native families to this day. My decision to join the military was partially attributed to following a long line of servicemen in my family. Natives have fought for generations to preserve their way of life, it seemed only natural that when given the opportunity to defend my country, I should take it. I learned from a young age that a true warrior is selfless in their actions, and does their job not for recognition, but because it is their honor to serve their people. That is an ethos I carry with me every day, that I can honor their sacrifices by living a life of purpose.

Kiowa/Cheyenne Majesty!

Kiowa/Cheyenne Majesty!

Q)You surely are living a noble life as a Warrior and as a Mother. What is your life like these days?

A) I am a mechanic on turbofan aircraft engines for the United States Air Force. There are very few females in my trade, and it is pretty messy and loud, but I love it. I think it’s the hands on aspect of the job. From a young age I enjoyed beadwork and sewing, anything with my hands. I love the moment when I deliver a project to its new owner and see the look on their face. I get a similar joy from finishing up a job and watching my work roll down the runway to fly away to another part of the world.

Powwows.com thanks Michelle FlyingMan for her service!

Powwows.com thanks Michelle FlyingMan for her service!

Q)You reap joy from participating in powwows too! What is your journey in powwows?

A) I have been dancing Southern Buckskin since I could walk. Powwows have always been a part of my life. My mother Franda FlyingMan was a champion dancer long before I was born, and continues to dance to this day. She and my Grandmother taught me to dance, and told me the stories to go along with it. My grandmother explained that we put our medicine on the tips of the fringes, and when we dance, it sweeps the ground. Also on the honor beats, we do a graceful bow to search for the trail of our men. The buckskin style of dance has evolved, but I still make sure my fringes sweep side to side and I “search” during the honor beats to honor the teaching from my grandmother. Most recently I brought out an outfit that replicates a captured US Calvary coat, similar to the one I saw in an old picture of a Cheyenne warrior who had collected it from a battlefield. My coat is adorned with bullet casings fired from a 50 cal, and a M-16 similar to the one I used when I earned my marksman ribbon. It was meant as a tribute to the warriors of the past, but the bullet casings remind me that we are still at war today.

Q) Wow! So,so powerful! Do you feel that power in powwows,too?

A) I grew up in the dancing arena, so for me, powwows are like coming home. I see people that I have known all my life, I hear songs that I grew up dancing to. I love the happy and eager atmosphere, and of course the food! I’ve danced to memorial songs of friends and family that have passed, I’ve presented my son to the dancing arena and watched him go from a shy tiny tot to a energetic young man… So many of my good memories are at powwows, they always leave me feeling refreshed and happy. And often with a mean “powwow hangover” when I have to go back home again!

Q) What do you think folks will learn about themselves as they attend powwows? What do you hope that they will discover about Natives and Culture?

A) We are still here. Our history is so clouded with stories of oppression and attempted genocide, the effects of which are still present today. We have faced many challenges, many enemies, but we are STILL HERE. Our children are learning positive outlets of expression like dancing and singing, we are making connections and strengthening friendships that will hold our families and communities together. People complain that powwows are becoming all about the competition, but there is so much more that goes on. It’s never too late to learn about your culture, there are teachers everywhere, you just have to be willing to learn.

Q) Absolutely! So, what do you think makes a powwow a success in sharing our culture and traditions?

A) Free feed for all dancers! I’m kidding… sort of! Honestly there’s nothing better than showing up to a powwow and getting a rockin’ song to dance to. The drum is the heartbeat of any powwow, and when the singers are on point, the powwow just flows. Of course I’m a bit partial to Gathering of Nations because its in my hometown, but I like how there is always something to do or watch. I try to attend Prairie Island, Morongo and Denver March every year.

Q) What do you wish we knew about you that we don’t already know?

A) I am 100% sober and drug free. Trust me when I say there is a lot of fun to be had without ever touching a drop of alcohol. There is a large supportive community of Natives that are “walking the Red Road” , I believe if we can return to that caring, tribal mentality we can work together to end the abusive cycles that have plagued our people for far too long.


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