Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 20, 2004 - Issue 109


pictograph divider


Woman, Children Maintain Dancing Legacy

by Mary Pickett of the Billings Gazette Staff
credits: James Woodcock/Gazette Staff
Cora Chandler, president of the Montana State University-Billings Intertribal Indian Club, and her children, Shylon, left, and Anika, right, will dance at the club’s powwow at MetraPark March 26 and 27

Cora Chandler, president of the Montana State University-Billings Intertribal Indian Club, and her children, Shylon, left, and Anika, right, will dance at the club’s powwow at MetraPark March 26 and 27The gift of an intricately beaded dress kept Cora Chandler dancing.

Growing up on the Fort Belknap Reservation, Chandler began American Indian dancing with she was 4.

Cora and her family would attend powwows with her grandfather, George Chandler Sr. The elder Chandler, a veteran of World War II, served on powwow color guards, requiring him to attend the entire celebration from presentation to retiring of the colors.

Cora learned to dance because she saw how proud her grandfather was of her. Eventually, she danced because it made her happy, and it was a way of sharing Gros Ventre tribal traditions with her family.

"It makes you feel so good," she said.

In addition to the emotional rewards of dancing, it also is a good aerobic workout, said Chandler, a former high school basketball player who still is a member of an intramural team.

As much as she liked dancing, Chandler stopped after her first child was born when the responsibilities of motherhood became too time-consuming.

To encourage her to get back into dancing, a friend from Oklahoma gave her a beautiful beaded yellow dress.

Now a sophomore at Montana State University-Billings, Chandler has danced all over the country, including at the Smithsonian's Folk festival on the Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1997.

She is passing along the family dance legacy to her two children - daughter Anika, nearly 5, and son Shylon, nearly 3.

Anika, who also takes ballet lessons, often asks her teacher if she and the other children can powwow dance.

Chandler and her children will be among the dancers at the Montana State University-Billings Intertribal Indian Club powwow March 26 and 27.

The event could draw 6,000 people or more to Metra Park, she said.

Tommy Christian, a tribal councilman for the Fort Peck Tribe, is the head man dancer who will lead the social dances. Kasey Nicholson, a graduate student at MSU in Bozeman, is the whipman, who encourages dancers to participate in the social dances.

MSU-Billings student Sue Lynn Brown is the head woman dancer. Althea James, a Navaho MSU-Billings student, will be the powwow princess.

Blue Eyes Yarlott, a student at Billings Central Catholic High School, will be the head young lady dancer. Eight-year-old Dezmond Rides Horse from Crow Agency, is the head young male dancer.

The host drum group is Eagle Whistles, a group of about 10 singers and drummers from around the United States. Bill Runsabove, a Northern Cheyenne-Oglala Lakota living in Frazer, is the group's head singer.

Runsabove, who is a direct descendent of Chief Little Wolf and Chief Red Cloud, will be the arena director for the powwow.

Walking Horse, a drum group from Lame Deer, also will participate.

The powwow will have several dancing contests including traditional fancy and Crow-style dancing in men's and women's categories. Men's grass and women's jingle dancing and children and teen categories are included.

Special contests sponsored by individual families also will take place.

Chandler extended an invitation to non-Indian students and community members to attend the powwow to learn about traditional dancing. She and other members of the Intertribal Club welcome questions about any of the dances and clothing dancers wear.

Because the event draws so many people to Billings, the city as well as MSU-Billings, benefits, she said.

This will a special powwow for the club because the event was not held last year because of financial problems.

The club of about 30 members worked hard to raise money to put on the powwow through bake sales, Indian taco sales, and selling advertisements in the powwow program.

The MSU-Billings student association is paying for the rent on the Expo Center for the event.

This fall, Chandler and her fiance, Mike Buck Elk of Lodge Grass, and their children will move to Montana State University in Bozeman where they will continue their education. Chandler will study Native American Studies and Buck Elk civil engineering.

Wherever their careers will take them in the future, Chandler knows one thing. She will keep on dancing.

"I will probably still be dancing when I'm an old grandma," she said.

Find out more

The Montana State University-Billings Intertribal Indian Club powwow will be March 26 and 27 at MetraPark’s Expo Center.

The grand entry beginning each session will start at 7 p.m. on March 26 and at noon and 6 p.m. on March 27.

In addition to several categories of men’s and women’s dancing, children and teen dance contests and drum groups will be featured.

Billings, MT Map

Maps by Travel

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!