Round dance singers and dancers at the Fort Hall Round Dance at Timbee Hall.
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — The tradition of the Fort Hall Round Dance carried on January 13 and 14 where many prayers were said for good luck and to wish the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes well.
Earl “Archie” Arkinson, Cree from Rocky Boy, Mont. also known as “Heat Wave Standing Up” in the Cree language, said the meaning of the Round Dance is ceremony and that’s why they smudge for the people that went home (passed on) and for the present. It began with a pipe ceremony on Friday, food was served both days to offer to those that went home, partaken for them and for good luck. “To always have luck at your home,” he said and always have food on the table. He explained those who went home were present spiritually – the Creator let them come here spiritually and “that’s why we do this Round Dance – it’s a high honor for them.”
Arkinson said a giveaway is conducted and there’s certain songs that go with it and smudging. “It’s something great we have,” he continued. Prior to the giveaway, four elders were asked to pray including local elders Norma Osborne and Clyde “Duke” Dixey Sr.
Concerning the giveaway, Arkinson said when you give gifts to someone you’re giving good luck. He served as a co-emcee with Bart Powaukee from Roosevelt, Utah. Both kept the dances going. LaGrand Coby assisted Powaukee on Friday night.
Miss Sho-Ban Kaycee Jo Dixey round dances with youth.
Sonny Dixey, Fort Hall Round Dance organizer, said he’s thankful to his uncle Archie for helping teach him the proper protocols, along with the late Merle Tendoy and Charles Top Sky. He’s also appreciative of three brothers he sings with in the Blackstone drum group Terry, Darrell and Randy Paskemin for teaching him what to do and also what not to do.
Sonny said it’s important to bring the good feelings back to the Tribes especially after the pandemic losing so many tribal elders – people with a lot of knowledge. “We’re doing this again hoping to get through to some of the younger generation to carry on what we are trying to each or show them.
Women singers at the round dance.
He started preparing for the event in October 2022 getting singers to see if they were available, gathering giveaway items and preparation of the food.
During the giveaway, Dixey acknowledged his daughter Anika, the Paskemin brothers, Mark Longjohn, Pat Teton, and Arkinson for their support. He explained he recently had some difficulties in his life and was appreciative of them. They were presented Round Dance jackets.
Sonny served as the stickman during the Round Dance as he took care of the drums and passed the sticks among the singers. In that role, he regulates the number of songs they sing depending on the number of groups or lead singers present. He helps teach order around the circle.
Emcees Earl "Archie" Arkinson and Bart Powaukee.
He noted how important it is to continue the tradition, “It’s something we can’t lose as Indian people, it’s something to hold on to and teach our kids and grandkids to follow in our steps – keep it going for as long as we can.”
Sonny is doing his best to pass on the teachings to the young people in his family. “It’s kind of hard, I can relate – I was the same way with my dad and my grampa’s, they’d try to teach me something and I was just a hard headed kid running around.” He’s hoping he’s getting through to them and they’re starting to respect the ways and the tradition.
He’s thankful for Archie because he knows what needs to be said during the Round Dance and what’s expected. He’s also thankful for Powaukee as he’s a really good friend and knowledgeable. “I called upon him to help me out and he didn’t hesitate.”
Round dancers in ribbon skirts.