A Newsletter for Kids from a Native American View

Moon of Gathering of Crops


September 4, 1999 Issue 20, Volume 2

Dakota Tamakoce Singers

Ta is the personal pronoun His. Makoce means Country.

Therefore, Dakota Tamakoce means Dakota, His Country.


(editor's note: This week, we are featuring a drum group that has helped "Turtle Tracks" in so many ways----thanks gang!! )

Back in 1983, a man, named Dick Becker, decided he wanted to start a drum group. Dick Becker was German by ancestry but had spent almost his whole life learning Dakota history and traditions ... singing Dakota songs, speaking the Dakota language, visiting with his Dakota friends, and sharing that history and culture. He was a botanist and geologist by degree, and taught in the Chicago and St. Paul school systems. Dick happened upon a person named Paul Barry, who, at the time, was the Advisor of a local Order of the Arrow district for Boy Scouts. The two men pooled their resources and gathered together friends and Scouters, who would be interested.

Over the course of a several months, the group met once a month, while Dick tried to teach everybody how to sing traditional Dakota grass dance songs. It was a bit of a struggle to get this group to learn this exciting new music. After several months, we decided to meet every two weeks, then eventually every week. After a year or two, we started to realize that we could actually do this. During this time we learned how to dance traditional style, make our own outfits, and so much more about the culture. Dick, Paul, and few of the other members started doing presentations for Cub Scout packs locally to try to educate others about the Native American culture that exists all around them.

Our learning was on a steep curve for the first few years. We had many prominent people of the Dakota community come and help us. Some of the people included Tom Goldtooth, Joseph Croud, Bob Wilson, Dennis Blue, and Dave Larson. We started attending any pow wows that came up. Morton becoming our favorite. We volunteered our time and resources to help the community in hopes to get a chance to learn more.

On February 14, 1987 we sang at our first pow wow put on by the Mascoutin Society in Huntley, Illinois. This was a nervous time for many of us. The last thing we wanted to do was offend someone. Fortunately, Dick was there as our lead singer and things went ok. This experience brought us to a new level of understanding. Next, we needed to refine our singing skills, to improve our presentation.

1987 was the start of many trips for Dakota Tamakoce. We went to pow wows from Tipton, Indiana to Chicago, to the Dakotas. We sang at a couple of pow wows, and danced at most. We began meeting many friends from all over who had so much to share. Our biggest honor came during the summer of 1988 when our group was invited to come and help out at Pete Catches Sundance in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. We rented a van to travel in, and headed out, not quite sure what to expect. The first night greeted us with the biggest storm that any of us has ever seen. After picking up debris and tents the following morning, we started helping prepare the grounds for the upcoming dance. What we experienced after that would stay with us forever. The power of the religion, the meaning in the ceremonies, and the feeling in the songs etched an experience into us all that could not be equaled. During the trip we were honored to meet and spend time with many new friends including; Pete Catches, Jerry Peters, John Robertson, Floyd (Red Crow) Westerman, Chance and Pauly Enyart, and Buggs and Paul Catches, to name a few.

On January 21, 1989 Dick Becker died. After five years of close friendship, tutoring, and growth, we lost what some of us thought was the most important part of our lives. Paul Barry kept Becker's soul for the following year, in mourning of the loss. We now faced another major step in our growth. Could we, and how could we, continue learning and growing without the essential guidance we've always had? We looked at what we had become and who we wanted to be, and decided to continue on, knowing that that is what Becker would have wanted. The following month was the Mascoutin Society pow wow in Illinois. We went to sing and dance only hindered by our loss. We tried to sing without our lead singer, and began to learn a whole new chapter in singing. The day ended well, thanks to the support of friends at the pow wow.

The next couple of years determined who would become the new lead singer. We also faced other, challenges of utilizing our resources of friendships and contacts, to continue to grow and learn. We continued attending pow wows around the area. We've become regulars at some places such as Parsons pow wow in the Wisconsin Dells, Big Woods/Big Plains lecture series at the Stillwater Senior High School in April, also the Mankato pow wow in September, Morton in June, and others. During the life of the group we have also helped out the Boy Scouts by volunteering as Campmasters at Fred C. Andersen Scout Camp once a month for about 8 months a year. This is our big opportunity to present and teach kids and leaders about the culture and singing.

One project that we took on in the past was to mentor a dance group from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. We invited them to Scout camp with us several times to teach them what the music is all about. We gave them several songs to use, explained the styles, importance, and proper use of the music. We also talked about dance styles of the Dakota so they could do better themselves and teach others.

The remaining years have found us at pow wows from Crow Fair in Crow Agency, Montana to more sundances at Pine Ridge and Sisseton, to the Mounds Park All Nation school pow wow. We are trying to continue with the purpose we started with, to learn the culture the best we can, then share it with others in a respectful way.

For the largest collection of Traditional Songs on the web and
to find out more about the Dakota Tamakoce Singers visit their website:

Dakota Tamakoce Singers

Story of the Week
The Lessons Of A Great and Powerful Warrior
by SbrWarrior, dedicated to the Native American Story Circle (NASC), AOL

A young boy one day went to his Father and asked,"Father, the time has come when I must choose what to be in life. I wish to become a great and powerful warrior. Will you teach me to be a great and powerful warrior, Father?"

The Father stopped what he was doing and turned to his son.

"My son, I cannot teach you what you seek in life, for I have never been a great and powerful warrior. I have hunted and I have fished all my life to provide food for our people and our family. The spirit within me tells me that this does not make me a great and powerful warrior. I have fought in many battles to protect our people from our enemies, and have taken many enemy lives in doing so, but the spirit within me tells me that I am not a great and powerful warrior for this. I cannot teach you to be a great and powerful warrior, my son."

As the Father turned away, the boy asked, "Who must I seek to learn to become a great and powerful warrior then, my Father?"
The Father stopped and said, "My son, if you truly wish to become a great and powerful warrior, then seek the council of our elders, and they will tell you where to seek the teachings of the great and powerful warrior spirit."

The next day the boy went to a place where the elders met and sat within a circle. As the boy entered the circle, he spoke.

"Great and wise elders, great teachers of our people, I seek your council. The time has come when I must choose what I must be in life, and I have chosen to be the greatest and most powerful of all warriors among our people. Who among you has the knowledge I seek to become a great and powerful warrior?"

The elders looked at one another with a puzzled look upon their faces, and then the oldest of the elders spoke.

" Why do you seek among us this knowledge? "

The oldest of the elders spoke again. "What you seek here among us is not within our spirits to teach. We must seek the one that can teach this knowledge. Return tomorrow, and we shall guide you to the one that will teach you to become a great and powerful warrior."

The boy thanked the wise elders and returned home. The next morning the boy returned to the great circle of the council of elders.

There he was told to stand in the center of the circle and await their answer to his request. The boy stood silent and waited for many hours, but the council spoke not a word. As the sun was about to set, the oldest of the elders spoke.

"We have spoken to the great and powerful warrior spirit, and he asks why you wish to become a great and powerful warrior?"

The boy looked into the faces of the council of elders and said,

"Great and wise elders, I wish to be a great and powerful warrior so I might be the bravest of all braves in battle. I wish to be a great and powerful warrior so I might be the greatest of all providers of our people. I seek to be a great and powerful warrior in hopes that I will, someday become the greatest and most powerful of all chiefs to our people, and when I am an elder like yourselves, I wish to be the wisest among all elders."

Once again the elders looked among themselves with a puzzled look. The oldest of the elders spoke, and said,

"The knowledge you seek is not within our spirit to grant. No man or woman within this village has this knowledge, nor have they ever sought it. We are a people that live a simple life--we hunt, we fish, we farm, and we only fight when no other options for peace can be had. You will find no great and powerful warriors among us here. Go now and think upon our words, and in the morning return here and tell us what you wish to be in life, and we shall guide you on that path you seek."

The young boy walked from the circle and returned home. As he walked to the crest of a small hill overlooking his village, he looked down and saw many of his people busy doing what they had done all their lives. He looked to the great river that flowed before his village and saw the many men that were returning from their day of fishing.

He said to himself, "The day's fishing has been good, but I see no great and powerful warrior among these men. They are but simple men that provide fish for our village."

He saw the hunters returning, and said to himself,

"Today's hunt has been good, but I see no great and powerful warrior among them though, they are but simple men that provide the meat and hides for our village."

He looked to the west of his village and saw the great fields that grew the corn from which the women made bread. He saw many of his people tending the fields and said,

"The harvest will be good this year, but the people that tend the fields are but simple people that grow and tend the corn for our village."

As he walked down the crest of the hill and entered his village, his thoughts were still puzzled by what he sought in life. The next morning came, and the boy returned to the circle of elders and stood in the center to await their spoken wisdom. The oldest of the elders spoke, and said,

Have you decided of what you wish to be in life?"

The boy answered. "Yes, great and wise elders, I have. I still wish to be the greatest and powerful of all warriors of our people."

The elders stood now and faced the boy. Their faces were now strong, and their eyes looked into the boy's spirit as he stood before them. The oldest of the elders spoke and said,

"We shall guide you on your quest . Go then to the North and climb the great mountains to their highest peak. Take not food nor water with you on your journey. When you have reached the highest peak, make no fire, but sit and wait for the great and powerful warrior spirit to come to you when he feels you are ready to learn what he has to teach you."

The boy traveled for three days without food or water before he reached the foothills of the great mountains, and he knew that it would be three more days before he would reach the highest peak. After three days of hard climbing, he reached the top and fell to the ground, tired, bruised and bleeding from his climb. He was hungry, thirsty, cold and weak, and he so wanted to be back home, warm and comfortable, sitting in front of his family's fire. As he laid there, the cold wind of the North blew upon him, and he felt a fear in his heart, for he had never been this far from his home.

It was on the second night that a small light appeared before him and settled to the ground and became a fire. he flames were not like the fire that burned in his family's home. The flames were dark in color, and no heat could be felt from them when he reached for their warmth. As the North wind blew stronger, the flames grew higher, and on the winds he could hear the songs of his ancestors being sung. As quickly as the winds came, they stopped,and the fire grew smaller and gave forth its warmth. Before him now sat a giant of a man. His eyes were cold and his body had many scars from battle.

For a moment, they both sat before the fire and stared at each other. Then, in a bellowing voice, the giant of a man spoke and said,


Shaking, the boy answered. "Yes, you are the great and powerful warrior spirit. The elders have guided me to seek you in my quest to become what I wish to be in life."

The great and powerful warrior spirit's eyes grew even more dark as he spoke again.


The boy was even more shaken, but answered. "Yes, I am."

The great and powerful warrior spirit's eyes grew calm, and a small smile appeared on his lips. He reached into a small pouch that he carried at his side and brought forth from it a warm buffalo robe. He handed it to the boy and told him to put it around himself. Again, the great and powerful warrior spirit reached into his pouch and brought out a sack and water skin. He handed them to the boy and told him to eat and drink.

The boy took the buffalo robe and wrapped it about himself, then he took from the sack the meat and bread and ate. After he finished eating, he drank from the water skin and felt the warmth of life return to his body in doing so.

The boy thanked the great and powerful warrior spirit for the warm buffalo robe and also for the food and water. The great and powerful warrior spirit turned and looked into the flames of the fire as he spoke.

"You need not thank me for these things; I have no need for them or any of the things that simple men and women seek in life."
This puzzled the boy, and he asked, "Why is this so, great and powerful warrior spirit?"

The great and powerful warrior spirit turned and looked sadly at the boy and said,

"There is a price that has to be paid for greatness and power. Once you have tasted the sweet fruit of greatness and power, the more you will want of it. The more you want it, the higher the price you will pay for it."

The boy was more puzzled by these words and asked, "What price must I pay, then, to be the greatest and most powerful of all warriors?"

The great and powerful warrior spirit's eye's grew even sadder as he spoke.

"There will come a time in your quest for greatness and power when you will turn your back upon your Father, Mother, Sisters and Brothers. There will be a time in your quest that no man or woman will call you friend. They will turn from you in fear, and hatred will be in their hearts because of your greatness and power.

"The more you seek in greatness and power, the more your heart will grow cold and hard. You will have no love, mercy, or compassion for your family, or your people. Many times you will go into battle and fight, not to protect your people, but to kill them for the sake of greatness and power. This is the price that has to be paid to be the greatest and most powerful of all warriors."

The boy was now trembling at what he heard, and the great and powerful warrior spirit saw this and LAUGHED. His laugh was loud and sinister, and it echoed like thunder from the peaks of the mighty mountains. The boy knew now that he had shown the great and powerful warrior spirit his fear of him, and this was not a good sign.

As quickly as the great and powerful warrior spirit started laughing, he stopped. His face turned hard and cold as he turned away from the boy to look again within the flames of the fire. His voice growled as he told the boy to hurry with his answer.


The boy drew what courage he could, and said,

"I came to you to learn to become what I wanted to be in life. I wanted to be the greatest and most powerful of all warriors, but I see now that the price to become this man is indeed to high for any man to pay."

The great and powerful warrior spirit smiled and asked, "Then what do you wish then to be in life, if not this?"

The boy got up and walked to the edge of the high place, then turned and said, saying,

"I want to be like my Father, a simple man that lives in peace and honor within this world as we know it. I want to know that I can love and be loved for who I am. Greatness and power will not allow this to ever happen. I want my family and people to smile when they see me, and not fear me because of the greatness and power I might have chosen over their love and trust. I want to live my life as an equal among my people, not better, or greater, or more powerful then they are. I want to feel again the warmth of my peoples fire that burns within their heart, and not the coldness of the fire that burns within yours."

The great and powerful warrior spirit jumped up onto his feet and bellowed his rage.


The boy climbed over the edge of the high place as quickly as he could and hurried down the mountain face. The great and powerful warrior spirit raised his arms to the sky and bellowed out a LAUGH that rung loud like thunder in the boys ears as he scrambled down the mountain. When the great and powerful warrior spirit stopped laughing, he turned and looked towards a great stone that was on the high place. In a soft voice he said,

"You can come out Grandfather. He is returning home now as I had promised you he would."

It was then that the oldest of the elders came from hiding. He walked slowly toward the great and powerful warrior spirit,took his hand within his own, and looked in his eyes with a smile on his face.

"You have done well, my son, " he said. "You have done well."

Artwork from the Catlin Collection at
The National Gallery of Art

Path of the Feathers
( By Ondamitag )

Did you know that a majority of Americans are not allowed to possess eagle feathers or any other part of an eagle (Bald or Golden)? There are laws prohibiting such things. These laws also apply to other endangered/ threatened species and migratory birds.

People have actually gotten in real trouble for violating these laws, especially when they handcraft items using critter parts then try to sell them. Others have simply gotten in trouble for possession of such critter parts. One can agree or disagree with the laws and their intrusiveness into personal rights, but it is important to understand these laws; ignorance is no excuse.

I live in a place where it is not difficult to find bald eagle feathers. Bald eagles are birds of habit. They tend to fish, feed, preen and roost in the same places. It is a matter of thinking like an eagle, a feather and the wind. For me, it is also a matter of integrity to protect such places and to simply leave things alone. Some things do not need to be picked up; at least by me.

I have seen the greed, the need to possess, turn reasonable folks into 'their own worst enemy. Where there is no greed there is no need. Eagle feathers have a very special place in most of the original nations of Turtle Island. They are symbols and much more than symbols. They are things for some to hold and the rest of us to behold. Eagle feathers are to respected.

There is a government agency within the Department of the Interior called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (http://www.fws.gov/). They are the ones charge with enforcing these laws and so much more. It is an interesting agency to say the least.

They also have a web page titled 'Facts About Federal Wildlife Laws' (http://www.fws.gov/laws/facts.html). One of the numerous sections is about birds and bird feathers. Here is the part that deals with feathers:

Birds and Bird Feathers

The import of most wild bird feathers, mounted birds, and skins (with or without feathers) is prohibited by U.S. Customs law. Most migratory birds are protected by international treaty as well as by United States law and may not be possessed without permit. However, game birds that are legally killed in and exported from foreign countries by United States hunters may be imported or possessed. Fully manufactured artificial flies for fishing (other than those containing protected bird species) may also be imported and possessed. Prohibited or controlled items commonly sold abroad include:

I learned that all eagles found dead by the public are supposed to be turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I then wondered what they did with the eagles after they were done studying them.

Well, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an eagle repository. The National Eagle Repository (http://www.r6.fws.gov/law/le59.html) is located within the old Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Commerce City, Colorado. The above web-site has links that allows downloadable forms and directions for obtaining eagles and eagle parts. The permitting process is very involved, and requires verification that one has the aboriginal rights to possess them. This verification is more than just tribal membership verification. The individual's tribe government and spiritual leaders also have to verify this person right.

When one looks over the other Wildlife Laws it quickly becomes apparent that there is a lot to be aware of when it comes to critter parts. It is well worth perusing the entire web-page on them.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a number of very useful pages like:

Servers Organized by Office: U.S. Fish & WildlifeService
This site has a myriad of programs some I found just totally fascinating - Like the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program. I hope it is as successful as the one that happened in these northern woods.

Laws, Regulations, Policies & Congressional Information: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (http://www.fws.gov/laws/)
This site is an excellent link page to finding out tons of information related to Fish and Wildlife service functions and so much more. This is an excellent resource page to hang onto.

Title 50--Wildlife and Fisheries
Chapter 1) (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx/50cfrv1.html)
Chapter 2) (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx/50cfrv2.html#200)
This site is one where can read the regulations that define the scope and purpose of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I was interested in the relationship of this agency and the Endangered Species Act.

Whenever I see a feather on the ground I might want to pick it up and keep it, but when I don't know what type of bird it came off of. It is better to look, enjoy them and then let them be, besides I have watched flying squirrels gather feathers. They eat the quills and save the soft stuff for lining their nests. I have even seen a porcupine eating an eagle feather, must be something in there they like and most likely need. Who am I do deny a porcupine or a flying squirrel a treat?

The world is full of special places that blend with extraordinary times. We are each blessed in our lives to experience a few of them. Honor all aspects of these places by knowing what to touch, what to taste, and what not to. There are many paths in this life. When we expect ours to be respected, we need to remember that we only receive that after we have learned to respect all the other paths. Respect is a mutual admiration society.

Here is hoping that we all learn to respect the Path of the Feathers.

To learn more about this magnificent bird
Golden Eagle

Safety Advice from the Experts
shared by KaseyWolf

1. Never trust a dog to watch your food. Patrick, age 10
2. When your dad is mad and asks you, "Do I look stupid?"  don't answer him. Michael, 14
3. Never tell your mom her diet's not working. Michael, 10
4. Never try to baptize a cat. - Eileen, 8
5. Don't pull dad's finger when he tells you to. - Emily, 10
6. When your mom is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair. Taylia, 11
7. Never allow your three-year old brother in the same room as your school assignment. Traci, 14
8. Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time. Kyoyo, 9
9. You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk. Armir, 9
10. Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick. - Lauren, 9
11. Don't pick on your sister when she's holding a baseball bat. Joel, 10
12. When you get a bad grade in school, show it to your mom when she's on the phone. - Alyesha, 13

IF Bubba friends didn't make you laugh, this website will do the trick!!
A Different Smile For My Friend.

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