Powwow Circuit Coalescing to Support the Movement to Protect
the Sacred Grizzly Bear
"The federal government wants to remove the grizzly from the Endangered Species List but we don't want the grizzly delisted!" exclaimed Jay D. Old Mouse, before a packed Saturday night crowd at the Kenneth Beartusk Memorial Powwow Grounds in Lame Deer, Montana.
“The grizzly isn't recovered," continued Old Mouse. "We don't want grizzlies to be hunted for trophies."
Old Mouse, the respected Northern Cheyenne flute man, was on the mic at the Northern Cheyenne 4th of July Veterans' Powwow alongside his fellow emcees, Cheyenne Spiritual Leader, Don Shoulderblade, Northern Cheyenne Councilman, Jace Killsback, and one of Indian Country's most recognizable voices, Ruben Little Head.
Old Mouse will be featured on the forthcoming CD of both traditional and original compositions that honor the grizzly and will highlight the arterial role and sacred nature of the Great Bear in the spiritual lifeway of the Cheyenne, their kinfolk and historic allies.
Old Mouse was introduced to the flute by his grandfather, Black Bear who immersed him in the hallowed traditions of the communicative art first given by the woodpecker and bull elk.
Black Bear was taught by Grover Wolf Voice, grandson of the noted scout, Wolf Voice, who in turn had received the blessing of the flute from Turkey Legs.
A veteran of the Battle of the Little Bighorn (Hae'esta'ehe Tséhevohnanestse), Turkey Legs is among the great characters and respected figures of latter 19th Century Cheyenne history.
"He played the flutes and he really knew how. He sang love songs," recollected Turkey Legs' daughter,
Jean Poitra, of her father. (Woodenlegs/Liberty, A Northern Cheyenne Album.)
Turkey Legs fashioned flutes from cedar that he harvested near Birney and when crafting them he chose natural elements over manufactured materials, utilizing heated pipe gum and buckskin ties instead of glue.
GOAL spokesman Don Shoulderblade is a descendent of Turkey Legs.
Ruben Little Head, a near fixture in the announcer's stand on the powwow circuit, offered support for GOAL's aim to protect the Yellowstone grizzly from, as Shoulderblade categorizes them, "great white trophy hunters.'
Somewhere on the top of that list is Wyoming Governor George Armstrong Mead and Congresswoman Calamity Lummis," said Shoulderblade's nephew, Bear Stands Last, of the two Wyoming politicians he feels "are infected with that rabid Old West frontier mentality."
Little Head and Old Mouse are among the latest to join an expanding list of Indian Country artists, musicians, singers, dancers, authors and tribal royalty who stand with the grassroots tibal cmmunity in seeking to preserve the sacred grizzly and defend the rights accorded to Native people through the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
Little Head, a grandson of Keneth Beartusk, correlates that feeling to the spirit that can be found on the powwow circuit.
"It's just a good feeling, knowing that we're still Native and we still carry on our traditions."