HORSE, S.D. - An illusion is something that you think it is, but
it isnt - like a treaty.
Big Mountain uses an illusion to begin his act with that statement,
a clear indication that comedy and highly-skilled manipulation with
marionettes and puppets is yet to come.
Mountain puts his marionette family to work in a mini pow wow with
a grass dancer, traditional male dancer, jingle dress, fancy shawl
and fancy mens dancer while he explains the meaning of each
dance to the audience; which on Aug. 12, was predominantly non-Indian.
of the references to Indian pow wows go over many peoples
heads, but he said it doesnt matter. "I expect it. It
makes them think a little. People say to me after a show that they
really learned something and some just say I was funny."
Mountains skill as a ventriloquist is renowned through the
United States, Canada, Germany and Japan. He will be the featured
entertainer at an international ventriloquists gathering in
Frankfurt, Germany in December.
friends - hand puppets, provide a discourse that to the knowledgeable
keeps the laughter going. Within the songs and banter, stories of
fry bread and 49ers ring true. For those who attempt to figure things
out, Big Mountain said he hopes the thought process will continue.
Big Mountain name is synonymous with entertainment. Buddy started
performing with his family, dancing for audiences with his father
and his brothers continue to do that. "We were the puppets;
I am carrying on in a different way."
said his first job with the marionettes was at a public school that
would spend $150 for 12 dancers. Big Mountain said he would provide
13 and brought 12 marionettes. He said the principal was angry.
asked him if the kids were told there was an assembly, he said yes.
So I offered to do the mini pow wow and if the kids didnt
like it he wouldnt charged them anything. I havent had
to give away a performance yet, that way," he said.
said that some dancers tell him that he had stolen their moves with
his pow wow dancing marionettes. And he did; he goes to pow wows
and watches. His dancer puppets will show an audience how the dance
should actually be performed, historically.
Mountain and his wife Diana make all the marionettes and puppets.
They are dressed in authentic regalia down to the exact detail.
Big Mountain is not in the entertainment business specifically for
the money, between him and Diana they are making a living traveling
the country. He does it to teach about the culture and also to let
people know that Indian people are alive and thriving.
may be treated to a show geared specifically for mature audiences,
"not too bad, just some innuendo."
people may be treated to shows with anti-drug, alcohol, abuse and
sexual abuse themes. "Its a comedy show, I dont
preach to the kids."
Mountain has four children and seven grandchildren. None of his
children are in the entertainment business, but he said he has hopes
for some of his grandchildren. His children performed a magic show
with him when they were young, but left to go their own way.
in New Jersey, Big Mountain is Mohawk, Welsh and English from his
mother, Comanche and Apache. He went to school in Paris (he pauses
before he adds), Tennessee and started puppetry in Wichita, Kan.
while in college. He performed his first show at the Native American
Club at Wichita State University.
built the show the night before I performed."
music from his show comes from other American Indian singers and
performers and he does not allow his show to be videotaped for that
Mountain said he would like to perform the rest of his life. He
made reference to Edgar Bergen, who performed his last show the
night before he died. "I would like to do that."
Mountain can be seen quite frequently in Canada, at pow wows and
in schools and at times in Las Vegas, where he makes his home. He
can be contacted at Pony Mountain Productions, 8217 Carnation Dr.
Buena Park, CA 90620 or by phone at (702) 379-2685.