The Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, northwest of Cedar Rapids, IA, sponsored the 1st Annual Native American Cultural Day yesterday. The ‘Brown Otter Singers’ from the Meskwaki settlement at Tama, IA, performed for a large crowd on a warm late summer day. The young Fancy Feather Dancer, above, wearsÂ regalia made with the help of his parents and grandparents. He has been dancing since he was four.
The two young men dancers join two US military veterans in a Meskwaki dance honoring the warrior traditions of protecting home. The performance was on the edge of the large prairie meadow near the nature center. Wickiup Hill is named for the type of winter houses that were often made by the Sac and Fox (Meskwaki) people who have long lived in this area of Iowa.
The Jingle Dress is both visually and accoustically pretty. The young girl wearing this one walked, and danced, in the beauty provided by the music of her skirt.
One of the dancers is also a wood carver. The decorative edge on this bowl could represent eagle tail feathers or tree lines or hills. The bowl and beans are posed against two large gourds. In the visually stimulating scene of color, movement and beautiful craftmanship of a powwow-like setting, photographers can also find quiet compositions.
The Elder whose story telling and dancing captivated the audience. We both found him a fascinating subject. There was a stillness and calmness about him that remained even when gesturing in story telling or moving in vigorous dances.
The last performer of the day was this flute player whose playing provided time and space for meditating on the day and its significance.
Zoom lenses and keeping one’s back to the sun were the two main photographic guidelines for the day. A bit of fill-flash was helpful for the flute player as he was in the shade of a canopy. We also found that shooting from a low angle helped to control backgrounds, lessened shadows on faces, and invites viewers into the images.
The members of the ‘Brown Otter Singers’ who performed at WHOLC. Harlan Brown, their manager, spoke, sang and played the drum (seen here in his hands) for this presentation.