Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Entering the Pow Wow Arena: Clay Silver Otter

Pow Wow is one of life’s microcosms and especially dear to Native Americans.

The arena is round. At its center resides an arbor of cedar, an ever green, eternal. Around the arbor the Anishnaabeg, the people, dance out stories of life. Traditional, Fancy, Jingle, Grass, Hoop, Sneak Up, Crow Hop, Snake, Round, Snow Goose, Blanket; these are some of those dances.

The area within the arena is most sacred and the people dance around the source of life, the heartbeat, the Drum. The perimeter is teaming with other forms of community which includes spectators, commerce and traders, and socializing. 

In life, one speaks and another listens, one works while another rests or plays, one cooks while another eats, one laughs while another weeps, and one comes while another leaves. There is selling and buying, meeting and greeting, and always there is celebration because there is life and life is there.

Each dancer entering the arena is a living offering, a witness who testifies, and an expression of the sacred. They are purposed and serve all with their dancing. They are toddlers, elders, competitors, and newcomers. They are the best and worst, experienced and learning, young and old, but always they are those whose heart says, “Dance!” And because this is so, no one is judged on their performance but valued for their gift, their heart, their spirit.

Every circling of the drum is a season, growth ring, life cycle, revelation, rotation of earth, and trip around the medicine wheel. It’s endless, like the spiraling of eternity.
What’s this? A dancer leaves. Their story is told.

A new person stands at the entrance of the arena dressed in a manner rarely seen. So obscure, it is difficult to know if they are male or female, young or old, newcomer or master, native or not. It won’t matter so long as one question is answered.

“Do they dance, will Clay Silver Otter Dance?”