Native American Indian Month comes to Wilkes

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Austin Loukas

Frank LittleBear performed traditional music and dance from his Cree tribe heritage in the SUB last week as part of Native American Indian month.

Jennifer Villa, Correspondent

The Native Americans from the Northern Plains Cree tribe out of Canada and northern Montana pride themselves in their spirituality and respect for others. Their language does not have a word for “lie.”

On Thursday, Nov. 8, Frank LittleBear, an artist, dancer, musician and lecturer from the First Nation Cree tribe, visited Wilkes University’s Henry Student Center to perform in conjunction with November being Native American Indian Month. The event was sponsored by the Office of Diversity Initiatives to promote awareness of Native American Indian Month on campus.

“What I try to do within my program is broaden peoples’ perspectives,” LittleBear said. “I hope it gives them a better understanding that we’re not just Nakota or Cherokee. There are so many different tribes and regions with great diversity among who and what we are as indigenous people.”

During his visit at the university, LittleBear shared stories of his people’s customs and beliefs, ancient legends, philosophies and historical lessons while dancing and playing tribal instruments, including drums and woodwind instruments.

“Every culture should have the opportunity to share the best quality and aspects of who they are,” LittleBear said. “Learning about the history, and getting that out to the schools and into the community and public is how people can pay tribute to who these people are.”

LittleBear’s own passion for the art and culture of his people came out of an accident where, as a young child, he was blinded in his right eye by a BB gun. He was told that the incident was a gift or a blessing and he drew inspiration from the experience, expanding his knowledge of indigenous tribes and devotion to his ancestral spiritually in order to help create an educational platform for others.

Since then, LittleBear shot documentaries presented historical depictions of First Nation culture and now regularly performs interactive presentations, like the one he did at Wilkes, to share his passion.

LittleBear explained that it is important for his audience to take part to truly understand his people’s identity and encouraged onlookers to join in the festivities by dancing and hooting along to the excited calls of his people.

With a little reassurance, the nervous audience danced to the drumbeats. They partnered up and marched in a circle, turning about and yowling during certain pivotal parts of the song.

“It is to the heartbeat of Mother Earth to which the people dance,” LittleBear said.