Michail Garvin Greywolf & Wanda Jones

Michail Garvin & Wanda Jones Shoshone Tribe & Gros Ventre Tribe; members of the Ancient Ones
topic: Native American Storytelling and Dance

background

Michial Greywolf Garvin is a member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Indian Reservation of Wyoming, USA. He has been participating in Native American Sundances for over 20 years, and is also a member of the Native American church, which is the peyote ceremony. In addition, Michail is a keeper of the sweatlodge ceremony and conducts lodge ceremonies year around on the new moon and full moon or anytime someone asks. Through these ceremonies and the teachings of elders, he has tried to live a life as close to traditional as modern times allow. He has fasted, (four days and nights) in the mountains seeking knowledge, direction, and answers to his questions for nearly 21 years, and can share stories about animals, birds and fish, as well as stories handed down about ceremonies and Indian society, then and now, including its deep respect for the connection to Mother Earth. This path that he is on has allowed him to travel and share knowledge and stories, including to Sweden, Norway, Italy, South America (Columbia and Peru) and Australia. In Peru, he ventured into the jungle of the Amazon and had the privilege of learning from a medicine man and participating in a ceremony with him. In Columbia, he met the Kogi people and in Australia learned about aboriginal ways and was adopted into the Larakeya Tribe of the Northern Territories outside of Darwin. His uncle (Tony Engavo) once told him that, "If you are sincere and humble about traditional ways, it will take you around the world". He thinks about his Uncle when he travels and gives thanks to him for all his encouragement and teachings.

Wanda Jones is a member of the Gros Ventre (Grow Vawnt) Tribe of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation of Montana, USA Her Indian name of Ghost Calf was given to her in a naming ceremony. This name belonged to an Elder from Tribal history. She has been participating in native dancing since she was a little girl, learning the ceremonial ways for 17 years. She takes care of the "women’s part" of the ceremonies, as there are defined roles for men and women. She does beadwork and has taught classes on beadwork in the US and in Sweden and Norway. Wanda possesses knowledge of her Tribal history regarding ceremonies and different societies. She has a deep and abiding respect for Mother Earth and tries her best not to contribute to her misery by being aware of what she does while walking on her. Along with her companion, Michial Greywolf, she has chosen to walk the "Red Road" as Native Americans call it. Together they study and find the plants needed for medicine and tobacco. She has also traveled extensively, sharing her knowledge with people in Sweden, Norway, South America (Peru) and Australia.

abstract

Native American storytelling started as an oral history for most tribes. The language was more of a descriptive language, describing more of a "picture" than a definite article.

Storytelling is a way of teaching tribal history, day to day living and honoring our warriors, hunters, animals and the things we use from nature. These stories include things like plants and trees we use for medicine, blessing/cleansing ceremonies and tobacco.

Our animal stories bring the animals to life with spirit and our ability to hear them speak with us about strength and compassion. Although, we also have stories and societies that dealt with the more comical side of life, such as the coyote; we call the "trickster"; and some tribes have a "clown" society.

The coyote (the trickster) was used as a way to get people to think about the choices we make in day to day living and the possible consequences of making hasty or selfish decisions.

The clown society was often individuals who did things the opposite way from everyone else. This included dancing in the opposite direction or backwards.

During ceremonies that were physically and mentally challenging, the clowns were there to keep the spirits high, Clowns often possessed the ability to call the elements, such as the wind, clouds and rain to help.

Stories were also told in paintings on animal hides, stories of hunting, of battles and calendars. Rock art is pictures of what they saw, or representations of that, the passage of time with markings or pictures of suns and moons. These images were pecked (chipped) into, or painted on to rock faces with pigments made from plants or other rocks or dirt. In the end; concerning rock art; the only ones that really know what was said, were the ones that created them hundreds or thousands of years ago.

Native dance was; as most Indigenous/Aboriginal people have; as way to express happiness, celebrations of the gathering of clans and tribes. Dancing was to honor the warriors and hunters for great deeds and for the coming of age for young men and women. Natives danced for the seasonal changes and for the different food plants or animals the represented. Dancing is an important part of Native culture and continues to be so today.