Women of the Four Winds bringing it all together

by Steve Cowley
News From Indian Country


Davidica Little Spotted Horse

I first met Davidica Little Spotted Horse at the American Indian Community House in New York City three days after September 11, 2001. I later learned she had organized the Lakota Search and Rescue team from her Pine Ridge Reservation that responded, literally, overnight to national media broadcasts for all emergency workers to report to Ground Zero. The 25-member team included firemen, EMT’s and police officers from their Outreach programs.

I recall how honored I felt as an AICH employee when our agency invited the team to our community center for a “thank you” luncheon. At first, meeting Davidica, Oglala Lakota, and the rest of the team was a somber occasion. However, this was soon replaced by special moments of relief, camaraderie, gratefulness and heartfelt pride for everyone while we ate together in the agency’s luncheon area, The Circle.

Now, six years later, speaking with Davidica she remembers what it felt like to be at Ground Zero. “It was mainly an overwhelming sadness. There seemed to be like a feeling of hopelessness everywhere mixed in with despair… confusion as well.”

It is from this kind of strong determined thinking and leadership through action that Davidica has created an exciting one-of-its-kind concert tour. She and her husband/tour manager, Wendell Young Man Afraid of His Horses Jr. (also a member of the 911 Pine Ridge Search and Rescue team), are proud to announce the Women of the Four Winds Tour that will premiere in January 2008.

martha-redbone.gif
Martha Redbone

Featuring an eclectic array of musical styles packed with magical performances the resulting tour stars some of Indian Country’s most talented performing artists; Martha Redbone, Wayquay and Pura Fé with comedian Dawn Dumont as Master of Ceremonies/Host.

Davidica said the idea first came to her in January. She had just finished recording her first music CD. She said, “At the time I was just trying to figure a way to get myself out there. So I had to find out how to do this.” Then she figured the best way was to tour with someone – or somebody. “I said to myself, why not get a group of strong Native women and go on the road.”

Her husband came up with the name Women of The Four Winds. They were trying to come up with something that would explain that all the performers were Native women and from different tribes. “We played around with some other names, something like the Native Women’s Tour. Then we realized that all us women came from the four different directions in North America… it came out nice.”

They decided the best venue to present this tour would be tribal casinos. She said, “The casinos have the budgets already in place for events like this. They can provide services we needed. We wanted to be able to make it as easy as possible for the performers to tour without having to worry about all those extra costs. The casinos can provide the hotels, meals and things like that. Also, because these casinos are run by tribes, I know we will be working with other Natives.”

wayquay.gif
Wayquay

Wayquay, Ojibway-Anishnabe, was excited to be asked to join the tour. “I was just ready for it. I wasn’t planning any such thing at the time due to my health. But that lifted my spirit exactly at that moment Davidica called me. And I thought, of course, that’s how the universe has it… let me do this.” Wayquay’s video “Navigate” was chosen the Best Music Video Award at the 2nd annual Native American Music Awards and at the 22nd Annual American Indian Film Festival.

While Davidica is impatient and can’t wait to start touring she admits to being a little nervous, “But I’ve never been shy my whole life.” Wayquay points out “we’ll have so much fun touring together” and Pura Fé echoed her feelings, “…it sounded adventurous, fun.” Wayquay adds “… when we’re all together we truly laugh. You know there’s medicine in that. It starts there.”

dawn-dumont.gif
Dawn Dumont

Speaking of medicine, the tour’s MC, Dawn Dumont, Plains Cree, hopes to create this kind of a fun environment for the performers and the audience alike. “I’m sure some of the musical acts will want to showcase some of their more poignant elements of emotion. I can bring people back to more of a happy playful atmosphere (between acts).”

Dumont said she was real excited to be asked to MC. “…to be working with women and artists of this caliber. I’ve always loved doing things that are women-centered.” She said this will be a huge career break since she says no one outside Toronto, Edmonton and New York City ever heard of her. She said the more stage time comedians get the better off they are so she’s looking forward to this kind of exposure.

puraf.gif
Pura Fe'

Pura Fé, Tuscarora, Native American Music’s 2006 Best Female Artist, is not worried at all about sharing a bill with other stars. “When you’re in ceremony they put you at the back. So it doesn’t really matter, you know, it’s the same thing. You’re all there together. Whether they put your name on the top, on the bottom or in middle, the point is you’re all there together.” Martha Redbone, Choctaw/Shawnee/Cherokee descent, Native American Music Award Debut Artist of 2002 and the tour’s headliner, also acknowledges the importance of this group of female artists. “I am thrilled and honored to be a part of this exciting milestone event. It’s an amazing first in Indian Country.”

It is difficult for a Native American group or performer to star in a main room of a casino without a major recording company backing them. But the combination of these incredibly independent women who not only well revered in Indian Country but are all internationally well known, can not be resisted. The Women of the Four Winds tour will stand historically as the first of its kind for Indian Country. It the first group of female artists to attempt touring the projected 20 American Indian owned casinos through out the US. As Pura Fé says “maybe this is something that will help bring more Indian entertainment into the Indian casinos and more native participants coming in to support and enjoy.”

For Wayquay the tour is a great coming out time, time for her to fly again (after surviving health problems). “This unique tour can only help other Native American artists and for me, it’s always about groundbreaking and blowing doors open. A lot of us have been doing this for awhile, toiling out there to degrees most people don’t even know what it takes just to keep on keeping on in the smallest of ways.”

Pura Fé, founding member of the internationally renown native women a cappella trio “Ulali”, agreed and said, “Hopefully because there are so many women together (on this tour) that maybe it will actually pull in lots of native people wherever we’re going, in whatever area. That they will come out and support it.” Wayquay added that every time an artist in Indian country makes it a little level higher, it’s really actually good for everybody. “Hopefully we can blow some doors wide open and let people know we’re just as good, just as viable, and from there it should even the playing field.”

The date and time of the premiere will be announced – for the latest updates about the tour and upcoming shows please log on to www.myspace.com/womenofthefourwinds or go to www.tapwe.com .

Steve Cowley, Cree, from Manitoba, began his career as a journalist in the early 90’s in Canada. As a New Yorker since 1993, Steve is currently the CEO of Tâpwê Production Projects. You can contact the author at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

0
0
0