(Frank) Today on Around Kansas, we join Deb again in Council Grove at the Voices of the Wind People Outdoor Historical drama about the Kaw Indians, the Santa Fe Trail and Council Grove. We’ll meet a Native American musician who plays and hand-makes flutes, re-enactors Moose and Windancer, a whole family of actors and more!
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(Deb) Welcome to Around Kansas. With me are Moose and Windancer and we actually met back at the Sampler Festival earlier this year and it’s great to see you again. So tell me about Council Grove, have you been here before? (Windancer) Yes, this is our second time at the Voices of the Wind People pageant and we always enjoy coming back here. (Deb) Now Moose, you’re one of the most recognizable people here, or anywhere for that matter, so tell me how you got into this kind of re-enacting. (Moose) Well I actually started off as an old Abilene gunfighter. And I wanted to go more historical and I meet some people like Blue Hawk and some other friends and I just wanted to go back a little further and teach more. (Deb) So when you started getting into this era, tell me about the era that you are portraying now. (Moose) Right now I’m portraying the plainsman, the trapper, the ones who came over. I’ve taken a Lakota wife, usually around the 1830’s, 40’s. (Deb) Now would you have been French? (Moose) No, the thing is though I portray a person who speaks French, English and the different dialects of the Indians he traded with. (Deb) So how did you get into playing the Lakota wife? (Windancer) I’m actually half Lakota so it came naturally. Windancer is my Lakota name. (Deb) Oh, wow! So you’re not acting at all. (Windancer) No. (Deb) Its who you are. Well how does that feel then to be able to get your own ethnicity and heritage in and have fun at the same time? (Windancer) Oh its wonderful! I love history. I’ve always been a big history fan so when I met Scott, it was a natural things and we have a blast. We love teaching. (Deb) Tell me about the people who come up and see the camp and what do you talk to them about? What is it you want to communicate to hem? (Moose) A lot of people don’t understand the things that we do. There’s a lot of work that goes into setting up these camps. We also like to teach the kids, mainly. Let them see and touch and feel. And then when they see, like I do a lot of fire demonstrations. I’ll make a fire with flint and steel or a bow-drill. And the kids when they see you can do that, they’re just amazed. (Deb) Well those are some valuable life skills too. (Moose) I think so. I’ve been out in the woods and there aren’t too many lighters around. So you just do with that you do with. (Deb) now did you grow up hunting and fishing? (Moose) Actually I didn’t. My dad was a ranch manager so I grew up doing a lot go cowboy stuff. But I love this time and era and the more I’ve researched, the more people I met, I just kept doing it. (Deb) Now if you could go back in time and live in that era, would you do it? (Moose) Oh yeah, most definitely. (Deb) Really? Man I wouldn’t! I love my air conditioning and hot running water. I wouldn’t give up that for a lot. (Moose) Believe it or not, with the teepee there’s actually quite a lot of air circulation in them and so we sleep quite comfortable. (Deb) That was a great design, wasn’t it? (Moose) We’ve seen storms roll through, it was blowing other tents down, but the teepee is still standing. (Deb) Really? Is that because of that conical shape? (Moose) Its because it will put pressure on it going down, other than pushing it over. (Deb) Well isn’t that something? I never knew that. In fact I’d always wondered, the storms are nothing new on the plains, and I wondered how villages withstood those. (Moose) the teepee is one of the best designs ever. Its a little bit more work to put up, but we’ve been in storms and we just go inane go to bed. (Deb) Great visiting with you but we’ve got to go. We’ll be right back.
(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas and I am with Ryan Harjo who plays the flute. Beautifully, I might add. So, Ryan tell me about your involvement with the pageant. (Ryan) Well, I was hired to come and do music before the show. And I’ve been playing the flute for 30 years now. I travel… (Deb) You must have been five when you started, or two or something…(Ryan) My Dad makes ’em. Yeah, my father is a maker. We travel all over throughout the United States, selling our artwork and I am glad to be here and represent this community to go ahead and do this. This isn’t the first time I’ve been here. This is the second time I’ve actually been asked to come and play. So, I really enjoy this community. It’s really nice around here. (Deb) So, where are you from? (Ryan) I am from Livingston, Texas. (Deb) Great. So, tell me about your father and growing up with that tradition with the flutes and what that means to you personally. (Ryan) Well, since I was five years old, I’ve been involved with dancing as a member of a youth group through an alcohol and drug program for prevention. It started in Kansas City through the Indian Center, Heart of American Indian Center. It was based in Kansas City and there was about 14 children, and what we did was we went and gave presentations in schools at different events, pretty much Indian awareness and education. The idea was that if children are involved in their culture, then they won’t be involved in other things. (Deb) Right, right. (Ryan) And so that’s how I got started as a dancer and a performer. I’ve taken it as my career. It’s something I do for a living and I am not the only one. In that group of kids, there’s about five of us that today still do this. And it’s what we do every day. (Deb) Wow. That’s amazing. That’s wonderful to be able to make a living doing what you love. And again, embodying your heritage as well. (Ryan) Yes. Yes, indeed. I do enjoy this quite a bit. And what I really like to do is educate people. I have a lot of facts and knowledge that just people want to know. They’d like to know about our culture and they don’t know how to get the right answers. That’s one of the issues that’s facing Native Americans today. We are kind of stand offish, in essence, when people ask questions. Because you know, our history is kind of filled with that type of thing, the “We need to protect ourself.” type of thought process. And so in order for people to be educated you have to have a communication, a dialect that you can discuss things with. And this is what I like to do. I like to talk about our culture in a way that makes it understandable and less of a of a magical, mystical type you know, thought process. And more of a down to earth, scientific idea of our culture, our stories and the way that we tell stories. (Deb) Now, what is your tribal affiliation? (Ryan) I am Creek. (Deb) We want to hear the beautiful flute music. So I am just going to get out of the way and let you play for a little bit. Thank you so much. Go right ahead. Now, is this one your Dad made? (Ryan) This is one I made. (Deb) Oh you made this. (Ryan) Yes, well we work together in the shop. (Deb) Oh, I see. (Ryan) I’ll do a step. He’ll do a step. Then we will split the merchandise up and you know… this is a.. they’re all signed and numbered. So, this is number 2,401 of this particular style. (Deb) Oh, I see. Now do you guys have a web site where you sell online? (Ryan) No, I don’t have a website. I have an email address- firstname.lastname@example.org. You can send me an email if you like some of my stuff. And I’ll respond and talk to you and tell you what we have, where we’ll be and if we can work together and come up with… if you want a merchandise I will send it to you. (Deb) Alright, alright Ryan. Take it away. (Ryan) You can place the microphone right in this area, that way it’s like that. (Deb) OK. (Flute Music) (Deb) Beautiful. Thank you. We’ll be right back.
(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas and with me is Paul Houston, or as he’s called here, Foxco. And Paul this is his first year to be at Council Grove so what do you think so far? (Paul) Oh, it’s great with all the native Americans. It’s quite a bit different than what we usually do. What I usually do. (Deb) So, you are part of the muzzle loading association. Tell me about that. (Paul) Yes, it’s the Kansas Muzzle Loading Association. And we are an organization who try to promote the historical aspects of buck skinning and mountain man kind of living, that type of thing. We work a lot with children and just anybody who will come out and spend some time with us and see how the pioneers used to live. (Deb) Well, when we talk about mountain men, that’s not exactly accurate. You know the Kansas territory and then earlier would have gone all the way to the Rocky Mountains. But mostly what we’re referring to is a trapping era, right? (Paul) That’s correct. (Deb) So, how did you get into that. Did you grow up hunting and trapping and doing that sort of thing? (Paul) Oh sure I did. But that’s not really how I got into it personally. After I got married and my wife was working with the guy who was a gunfighter in old Abilene town and they do cowboy type of shooting. Not cowboy action shooting that’s something completely different. But it’s more of a Hollywood stunt man type of stuff. And so I went and tried that and I just loved it. So, I joined them and I did that for 14 years. And then I ran into a group called CHAPS which most of these people that you see today are what most of our reenactors are formal members of CHAPS. (Deb) And what does that stand for? (Paul) Cowboys, Hombres and Pioneer Society. (Deb) What fun. (Paul) Yeah. And anyway, they introduced me to the Kansas Muzzle Loading Association which is a huge organization. that encompasses a lot of different clubs. We do different types of muzzle loading and that’s where we kind of network and interact. And we do a lot of trading and selling of goods. And it’s a lot of fun. (Deb) So, when people come to an event like this and what do you talk to them about? And one of the things that’s always struck me is especially kids, everything before them is all equal. You know, there’s no concept that this came before this in history. You know what I mean. If you’re 60 years old you might as well have been trapping bear or something. It’s all equal. It’s kind of hard to get that across to them. (Paul) Well we talk about all kinds of different things. They usually let us know what they’re interested in, whether it’s the guns, or the furs or the tents of whatever it happens to be and we can talk about that. A lot of it is the primitive firearms that we’re using and that they are tools and not necessarily weapons, which is a big thing for us to try to explain. (Deb) Yeah, that’s a great distinction and it was a very necessary tool on the Plains in those early days. (Paul) It sure was. (Deb) Well, we’ve gotta go. It’s been great. Thank you so much. And we look forward to seeing you again at the next event. (Paul) Well, thank you. (Deb) We’ll be right back.
(Deb) Welcome to Around Kansas from downtown Council Grove and we’re here with the Wright family, and unfortunately the pageant got rained out tonight. We had a heck of storm here but it doesn’t stop the partying from going on and the folks from celebrating history. And the Wright family is in the production. Bless you. And Dennis how long have you guys been in the production now? (Dennis) This is our third time. It happens every two years. It would be a big production if you did it every year. So, we do it every two years. So in ’10 ’12 and now ’14 we’ve been in this production. (Deb) So, how did you do the… Tyler you got to crack the whip is that right? (Tyler) In practice I did, but not in the real play. (Deb) Oh no, not in the real play? Dog gone it! And so Carol, what do you do in the play? I’m a townsperson, I mingle and visit and share stories in the town scenes. (Deb) Now, Maggie you came all the way in from Spain to be in this I hear. (Maggie) Yes, straight from the other side. Yes, I have been living in Spain, but I’ve been home the last two times to be in it. I’m a townsperson. (Deb) wonderful, well that worked out really well. They don’t have to pay for you to come and they get the talent imported from Spain. Now Kayla, what do you do in the play? Turn around and face the camera so they can see this pretty girl. Alright. Doesn’t she look like she should be in Laura Ingalls Wilder or something? So, what do you do in the play? (Carol) Can you say you’re a town girl in the play and you do games? (Deb) So what kind of games do you play? Are they games that you knew before like hoops, or tag? Do you play tag in the play? (Kayla) Yes. (Deb) So what grade are you in? (Kayla) Kindergarten. (Deb) You’re in kindergarten. Do you go to kindergarten here in Council Grove? Where do you go to kindergarten? (Kayla) I’m home schooled. (Deb) Oh, you’re home schooled. You must be a very smart girl. Are you gonna be in the play when you get bigger? When you get older? I don’t know. Well, you’ve got a good in right now. So Carol you were telling me and I thought it was great about how you moved to Council Grove and through being involved in this pageant you really learned the history. (Carol) Yes, when you come to a town it takes a little bit of a commitment to learn the history and especially with Council Grove. And immersing ourselves in the pageant really helped with that. The towns people they named streets after them and all sorts of interesting stories. And hopefully people will come back again in a couple of years and hear the stories then too. (Deb) Well, we really hope that next time the rain doesn’t bother us. I know you had a great show. I heard great things about it. So folks, put this on your calendar for… what year is this? (Dennis) 2016. (Deb) 2016. (Dennis) Seems a long way away but it’s right around the corner. (Deb) And it’s a big crowd so you all put that on your calendar. We’ll be right back.
(Deb) We’re here with Tyler Wright and it’s Tyler’s job to crack the whip, and since he didn’t get to do that in the actual production but only in practice, we thought we’d have Tyler show you what he can do here. Now, Tyler who taught you how to crack the whip? (Tyler) Jessie Masters. (Deb) And he’s a guy from church? So, what was the purpose of cracking the whip? (Tyler) You just had it for fun and I got it from him and learned how to crack it well. (Deb) Now, in the play you crack the whip to get the horses started? Like for the wagon train, is that right. (Tyler) They get it started, I just make the noise to go with it. (Deb) OK. Alright. Well, we’re gonna let you crack the whip. And I’ going to get out of the way OK? (Tyler) OK. (Deb) Awesome. Oh, yes go ahead and applaud. That’s alright. That was great. Good job. So, I think you’ve got a good career as a bull whacker coming up. What do you think? (Tyler) Yes. (Deb) Thanks Jessie.
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