women take the microphone in the male-dominated powwow emcee’s field | Voice of America


Deanna Rae StandingCloud has jokes.

She also has the voice and the talent. Now she just needs more opportunities to show it.

StandingCloud, Red Lake Nation, of Minneapolis, is one of the few female powwow leaders in a typically masculine field. Now that powwows and other social gatherings are returning after a pandemic hiatus of several months, StandingCloud also wants its voice to be heard.

StandingCloud and others like Kwe Blomgren want powwow makers to know they are available to facilitate, Indian country today reported.

“We have to start having women in these roles, so in our minds, we think it can definitely be a woman, and it can be,” StandingCloud said. “Women are pretty funny, and some of the funniest people I’ve met are women, so why not?”

“Fight for my dream”

StandingCloud has created a group of women’s powwow leaders on Facebook and has nearly a dozen members. She wanted future powwow leaders to have a space to connect. Blomgren is one of its members.

“Hearing their celebratory trips or mini concerts is really inspiring there,” Blomgren said of the band.

Blomgren, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, periodically posts on her Facebook page that she is a “powwow host for hire.” In August 2019, she posted a short video on Facebook explaining why she wanted to animate with an example of her emcee style. The video was her way of letting others know how serious she is.

In her post, she wrote: “I officially submit my cowboy hat to the ring. (Yes.) Here is my simulation (big entry). I am not the best or a pro but my heart is fully in it video. I worked hard on it and I’m super proud. I tell my daughters to try, try and fight for what they really want. So here I am fighting for my dream . “

The master of ceremonies, or master of ceremonies, tends to be a popular but demanding concert, and most powwows have a rotation of two or three or more people. The challenge for most entertainers is to keep the crowd engaged and entertained while guiding the dancers and singers through the hours of celebration.

It’s also fun and useful, StandingCloud said. Plus the many plates of food all the time and the ability to come up with words and jokes on the fly, she said.

“I think the trick to being an emcee is to read the crowd and be in the moment,” she said. “A lot of jokes come from improvisation. I try to be present, to be in the moment and to enjoy the celebration itself, and a lot of teasing jokes will come out of it.”

She also likes to play on the energy of her co-hosts.

“Someone is ending on a perfect beat – I’m going to say ‘Hoo! There you go, guys’,” she said in a deep voice, stretching out her words. “‘Powwow Saturday Night Live. We’re here!”

‘I have to do that’

StandingCloud loves to be social and was often found at powwows or events in the Twin Cities area before the pandemic. His first opportunity as master of ceremonies was not planned. A few years ago, she was helping a master of ceremonies at a local school powwow until it made more sense for her to be at the microphone. The following year, she was invited again to be the senior emcee.

Then came his big break. In mid-2019, the organizers of the Leech Lake Labor Day Powwow asked StandingCloud to co-host the celebration. StandingCloud said she was initially worried about the invitation. She knew the powwow and knew it was one of the biggest powwows in northern Minnesota.

“Inside I was like, ‘OK, I have to do this because, first of all, no one ever gets asked that,’ StandingCloud recalls.“ I didn’t want to because I was nervous and I didn’t think I was really good enough, but whatever. I said yes.”

A few months later, she had another master of ceremonies concert at a Fond du Lac Band powwow near Lake Superior. The facilitator was getting easier and easier and StandingCloud felt comfortable. Then the pandemic struck.

Most recently, StandingCloud was the virtual master of ceremonies for the MN Connect Powwow and an in-person master of ceremonies at the Red Lake Nation College graduation and mini powwow.

“I’m just thrilled that COVID is something behind us so we can all come together and have a powwow,” StandingCloud said. “The sounds, the smells, the sounds of bells, I miss everything. It’s just a nostalgic feeling. It’s a very vivid experience for a lot of our people, and it’s one of the things that probably got us. healed as Native people. “

A few years ago, during a summer in Minnesota, Blomgren was enjoying a powwow on his homeland of Leech Lake when his goal was to be in the master of ceremonies’ stand.

She approached. She has hosted community events and gatherings.

After his video on Facebook, Blomgren had planned a few local powwow master of ceremonies concerts, but they were unfortunately canceled due to the pandemic.

“I am definitely ready,” said Blomgren. “When the world is healthy, I’m ready.”

Her confidence comes from the positive feedback from her family and community, including Elders. His dream is to one day host the Gathering of Nations in New Mexico.

“I want female facilitators to be the norm, and I want us to start getting along at the celebrations and seeing each other do great things.”

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