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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 30, 2002 - Issue 75


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Folk Singer Gives Students Lesson in Ways of Native Americans

by Kati Phillips Daily Southtown

Jack GladstoneA Grammy-nominated Native American folk singer had 300 Frankfort Square School students howling like wolves Friday during a Thanksgiving holiday assembly.

Jack Gladstone, a singer, songwriter and storyteller from the Blackfeet Indian tribe, used animal myths to teach about heroes in native western traditions.

"Since Sept. 11, I don't know if I've gotten better at it or people are understanding more," he said. "But it's been easier to remind people of the true spirit of what we call a hero in myth — selflessness."

Gladstone's music was illustrated by his father, Wally Gladstone, with slides of Native American people, wolves, buffalo and other western icons.

Beyond helping drive 650,000 miles over the past decade of tours, Wally Gladstone said his role in the show has been to teach his son stories passed on from their forefathers.

"In the Blackfeet Indian tribe, the oral tradition plays a very large part of our mental and physical being. It's made us stronger through the years," he said.

Frankfort Square School Principal Nancy Hindel said Gladstone's performance is helping round out an observance of Thanksgiving that incorporates character education, reading and cultural understanding.

Students are learning to share by each contributing an ingredient for a Thanksgiving feast. They will "gobble up a good book" while they feast on the Thanksgiving treat made from their contributions. And Gladstone's music will help link ancient Native American and present-day American cultures in their minds, she said.

"I always remind the kids there were 500 pre-existing nations in America (before the pilgrims)," he said. "America was not an empty wilderness."

He also urged the first- to fourth-graders to listen to the stories their parents and grandparents share over Thanksgiving dinner.

"Every single family has their own oral tradition," he said.

Gladstone was born in Seattle to a Blackfeet father and German-American mother. Many of the Blackfeet stories he told Friday were related to him by his grandmother.

Gladstone earned a football scholarship to the University of Washington. He wears a Rose Bowl championship ring and holds a degree in speech communications.

He taught public speaking at a community college on the Blackfeet Reservation in northern Montana before he started touring as a lecturer and performer in the late 1980s.

"Buffalo Republic," Gladstone's eighth album, was released in 2000. Produced by Lloyd Maines, it was honored with a 2000 Grammy nomination for Folk Album of the Year.

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