Wednesday, September 28, 2011

23 - Storyteller

A few weeks ago my family and I attended the MCNAA annual Powwow in Haverhill, MA. I love this powwow. Everyone is friendly, the dancing is great and they have nice interactive exhibits and cultural displays throughout the day. My children hung out at the tee pee and played Native American games. From a distance, I saw Mr. Barnaby, who I met last year, and in a way helped to launch my exploration over this past year. He was sporting beautiful new regalia and danced as wonderfully as ever. The setting at Plug Pond is pretty and the sun was shining after a week of rain. There were some new faces among the dancers as well other familiar ones. All in all a fun day for us.

Playing traditional games at the tee pee
The guest speaker at the powwow this year was a Mi'kmaq flute maker and story teller named David Sanipass. He is from  the Aroostook Band in Maine but spends time traveling and speaking throughout the world. He mentioned that he had not spoken at a powwow in a very long time. I was there close by listening, trying to soak in every word that he spoke. I was especially interested because he brought with him and played a variety of his own hand crafted flutes, and the musician in me was captivated.

Mr. Sanipass had some big messages that day and spoke of many large ideas and important things. I will recall the things that ring true to me but there were many others that passed through as well. He spoke of kindness. How important it was for people to simply show an act of kindness to each other. I have heard this same message several times in different forms since this day from others as well, so, I have been working on this in myself. It is a message that seems to be trying to reach me. Kindness is a powerful thing and it spreads when you put it out there.

He spoke a lot about how people do not take the time to listen to the stories and he feared that many were just not ready for the messages and in turn to advance spiritually. This may be true, but there was a time when many listened. This was when he played his songs. It is an amazing thing when people in the midst of doing other things, just stop and listen. There are no words, but something gets through. Something just hits the spirit and you know that what you are hearing is important.
Mr. David Sanipass playing one of his handmade flutes

He mentioned before he played one of his beautiful flutes, that as spirits, we would be known in the afterlife by our songs. I love this thought. I have dwelled on its meaning often since I heard him say this. As a singer, and one who is surrounded by so many musicians and students learning to communicate through song, this rings so true to me. Actually, I think this is in all of us and doesn't have to be learned. Most of us are moved by music in some way if we let it happen and don't try to control it. Just watch a baby move to music. It's instinct. It's just conventions that are taught. In history, song has often been considered to be a higher kind of speech because it does come closer to spirituality. In Christianity, the angels sing. There's something to this idea I think. That day when Mr. Sanipass played, I'm not sure if he knew it, but we were listening, and the power of the song he played came through loud and clear.

I spoke to Mr. Sanipass later that day and thanked him for his message and his songs. He was very kind and took time to show my daughter a magic trick. She was shy, but thrilled.


The music in the slideshow above is by A Tribe Called Mi'kmaq and is from their album, We Honor the Water available on i tunes.

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