events and news of the Inali Dancers, an intertribal native dancing, singing, and culture group in western illinois

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More soon!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm getting this blog going again

I'm going to try to get this going again, I apologize for not keeping it up lately.
The Pimitoui powwow went pretty good, better than I was afraid it would be. There were a fair number of dancers and quite a few spectators, although still not a lot of vendors. I think now with some work and care, this powwow at least can be kept going.
Our own Katie Hahn was head lady there, and she did a great job as always.
A couple of weekends ago a few of us did some songs and dances for a cub scout day camp, they really seemed to enjoy themselves.
The powwow at Knoxville was different, to say the least. Very few dancers, spectators, or vendors showed up, but we went ahead anyway. Our drum had some problems with the MC, I won't go into it but we were not happy at all. If this powwow has a future, it's going to take a lot of work and thought.
Bad news, Amelia Warrier, Ely Warrier's wife , has passed away. She will be missed.
I'm going on vacation for a while, but I'll get back when I get home.

Monday, April 21, 2008

memorial dance this weekend

Don't forget the memorial dance this saturday south of Heyworth. We're going to be singing there, but we don't really know what all will be going on. It starts about 2:00 and should be over by 6:00.
It's south of Heyworth on 51 to Carl Spring road, then west about 3 miles.
Because of this dance, there will be no practice this friday.
It looks like the powwow in Knoxville will be the weekend of June 21st, at the county fairgrounds. I know they can use all the help they can get.
I'll try to get back soon with some things I want to talk about (if I remember).

Sunday, April 06, 2008

the government is at it again

Once again the USA government is trying to bury native culture. This time it's in the Black hills, sacred Lakota places. Read this:

The Pe Sla is one of the five primary sacred sites in the Black Hills to the Lakota nation because of its position on their annual pilgrimage/journey of prayers and ceremonies. It is also the only one held mostly in private hands as others are within state or federal property. This prairie has only known cattle grazing by a handful of ranchers since the Homestead Act. Now subdivisions are encroaching upon this one pristine open space left in the Black Hills.

This is not a little thing, this has to do with native rights for the future.
If you don't think this matters, read this:

When the Forest Service was asked about a cabin being renovated as a memorial to the ranching history on the Pe Sla, the questioners reminded them that there was a much longer history of this site among the Lakota. The Forest Service representative told us that the Lakota elders with whom they consult told them no one wanted that information known. A few months later when an official from the county government was standing on Rochford Road that runs through the middle of the Pe Sla or Reynolds Prairie, he exclaimed with great satisfaction that "soon this road will be a black ribbon (paved with asphalt) and this prairie will be a sea of houses"

No one seems to have heard about this situation. We all need to get behind the Lakota nation on this.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

galesburg powwow a question

The dates I gave for the Galesburg powwow are no good, it was the same weekend as Starved Rock and no one wanted to compete. Right now no date has been set, and I have no idea when it might be. I will say more as I learn more.
We had a good powwow in the men's prison the weekend before last, mostly we just sat around the drum and sang, everyone else just listened and socialized. We took in our big drum this time, we hadn't used it in over a year but it still sounds great, with unbelievable volume. Two of the prison's drum singers are leaving soon, including one of the most important. We will miss them, but they get to go home. We all wish them a lot of luck, and hope we don't see them soon, if you know what I mean.
Nothing much coming up soon, until May when powwow season kicks in. It looks like Pimitoui is going to be held this year, which is great news. We all need to support this powwow, and keep it going. We've lost too many already.
Rosa had her baby finally, a boy, over 9 pounds. Congratulations, Scott and Rosa! Looks like we've got a new singer down the road.
Also, I finally got a computer working for Dinah, she will be able to get email now, call one of us for the address.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

it's been a while, some bad news

I know it's been quite a while since I put up a post, I went on vacation, then work got bad for a while, and I managed to lose a post I tried to put up. I hope to do better in the future.
Before I get into news about the group, I have some bad news.
This monday Ken Funmaker,Sr. passed over. Ken was the head of the Ho-Chunk Bear clan, and was the main person trying to reestablish the Ho-Chunk Hayluthka, their formal war dance. He was very active in powwows in Wisconsin and northern Illinois, and often attended the White Bear Hethushka. He will be missed.
This saturday, March 8th, we will be going into the men's prison for their powwow. We did the women's the saturday before last, and had fine time. We messed up and went in on visitation day, so a lot of the ladies couldn't make it, but we had a good number anyway, including a few new people. We had two potato dances, round dances, intertribals, and everyone had fun.
Jim Sanderson is working hard on the powwow near Galesburg, right now it looks like it will be at the Knox County fairgrounds the weekend before Memorial day weekend.
We're working on a lot of new songs, we hope to have some good new ones by then.
Larry Cooper lost the place he'd hoped to have the Bald Eagle days dance next January, but he's not giving up.
On a political note, I don't remember if I've mentioned this before, but a group is trying to get the Illinois smoking law amended to allow pipe and smudge ceremonies indoors at native events.
Everyone ought to support this, it's basic religious freedom.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

prison dates, other things

A short post on some recent news. We have dates for the prison powwows, feb. 23rd for the mens and march 8th for the womens. On sunday, feb. 17, there is going to be a meeting at Ellen Williams house to make plans for the powwow Jim Sanderson hopes to put on sometime this year. If you have input, please be there.
Larry Cooper tells us he is close to making a deal for a place to hold the winter gathering next january, since the school in Hamilton didn't want us back. I hope he gets a place, it was turning into something good.
We stirred up some interest at the mall in Galesburg a few weeks ago, we got some names and numbers. So far I don't know of anything that has come from them, but its a start.
I'm going on vacation for a week starting saturday, but I may try to get something more up before I leave, if I have time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Galesburg Great!

Sorry it took so long to get this up, but the "little" gathering at the Galesburg mall last week was fantastic!
We thought it would be just a few of us locals singing some songs and doing some dancing, Man were we wrong!
The turnout of dressed regalia dancers was amazing, there were more than at some powwows I've been to lately. The spectator numbers were just awesome. The mall manager numbered them in the hundreds.
This was something to remember, Jim Sanderson really pulled something special together.
Now we're hoping for a real, full blown powwow in the area sometime in the future.

And by the way, for some people who weren't there for a particular reason, AIM ROCKS!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Winter dance

The winter dance at Bradley University turned a lot different then we expected. First off, we thought the Rainbow singers would be the only other drum there, but Eagle Ridge showed up, and the new youth drum Golden Eagles too. All three of us southern drums set up in a row in the center, and pretty much sang together, though the mc called us each in turn for songs. This was new to us, and hard to get used to. We really put out the volume, though.
There were also many more dancers than we expected, more even than the organizers expected. At grand entry they filled the circle (it was a small circle, but still).
There were some great exhibitions, and someone asked for an owl dance, but no one really knew how to do it (it's kind of out of style, at least around here).
There were a few people who I know were curious locals, and I think they really saw something good that day. It's a good sign for the future, at least I hope.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A Hero Gone

Major Andy Olmstead lost his life in Iraq yesterday. I think I'll let him tell it:

"I am leaving this message for you because it appears I must leave sooner than I intended. I would have preferred to say this in person, but since I cannot, let me say it here."
G'Kar, Babylon 5

"Only the dead have seen the end of war."

This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, like G'Kar, I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person. I want to thank hilzoy for putting it up for me. It's not easy asking anyone to do something for you in the event of your death, and it is a testament to her quality that she didn't hesitate to accept the charge. As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn't bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose. Perhaps I take that further than most, I don't know. I hope so. It's frightening to think there are many people as neurotic as I am in the world. In any case, since I won't get another chance to say what I think, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Such as it is.

"When some people die, it's time to be sad. But when other people die, like really evil people, or the Irish, it's time to celebrate."
Jimmy Bender, "Greg the Bunny"

"And maybe now it's your turn
To die kicking some ass."
Freedom Isn't Free, Team America

What I don't want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin. I'm dead. That sucks, at least for me and my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren't going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss. (If it turns out a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life, then by all means, break out the onions.) I had a pretty good life, as I noted above. Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred to have more time, but I have no business complaining with all the good fortune I've enjoyed in my life. So if you're up for that, put on a little 80s music (preferably vintage 1980-1984), grab a Coke and have a drink with me. If you have it, throw 'Freedom Isn't Free' from the Team America soundtrack in; if you can't laugh at that song, I think you need to lighten up a little. I'm dead, but if you're reading this, you're not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact.

[continued below the fold]

"Our thoughts form the universe. They always matter."
Citizen G'Kar, Babylon 5

Believe it or not, one of the things I will miss most is not being able to blog any longer. The ability to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper and put them where people can read and respond to them has been marvelous, even if most people who have read my writings haven't agreed with them. If there is any hope for the long term success of democracy, it will be if people agree to listen to and try to understand their political opponents rather than simply seeking to crush them. While the blogosphere has its share of partisans, there are some awfully smart people making excellent arguments out there as well, and I know I have learned quite a bit since I began blogging. I flatter myself I may have made a good argument or two as well; if I didn't, please don't tell me. It has been a great five-plus years. I got to meet a lot of people who are way smarter than me, including such luminaries as Virginia Postrel and her husband Stephen (speaking strictly from a 'improving the species' perspective, it's tragic those two don't have kids, because they're both scary smart.), the estimable hilzoy and Sebastian of Obsidian Wings, Jeff Goldstein and Stephen Green, the men who consistently frustrated me with their mix of wit and wisdom I could never match, and I've no doubt left out a number of people to whom I apologize. Bottom line: if I got the chance to meet you through blogging, I enjoyed it. I'm only sorry I couldn't meet more of you. In particular I'd like to thank Jim Henley, who while we've never met has been a true comrade, whose words have taught me and whose support has been of great personal value to me. I would very much have enjoyed meeting Jim.

Blogging put me in touch with an inordinate number of smart people, an exhilarating if humbling experience. When I was young, I was smart, but the older I got, the more I realized just how dumb I was in comparison to truly smart people. But, to my credit, I think, I was at least smart enough to pay attention to the people with real brains and even occasionally learn something from them. It has been joy and a pleasure having the opportunity to do this.

"It's not fair."
"No. It's not. Death never is."
Captain John Sheridan and Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5

"They didn't even dig him a decent grave."
"Well, it's not how you're buried. It's how you're remembered."
Cimarron and Wil Andersen, The Cowboys

I suppose I should speak to the circumstances of my death. It would be nice to believe that I died leading men in battle, preferably saving their lives at the cost of my own. More likely I was caught by a marksman or an IED. But if there is an afterlife, I'm telling anyone who asks that I went down surrounded by hundreds of insurgents defending a village composed solely of innocent women and children. It'll be our little secret, ok?

I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn't a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don't drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I'm not around to expound on them I'd prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn't support. Further, this is tough enough on my family without their having to see my picture being used in some rally or my name being cited for some political purpose. You can fight political battles without hurting my family, and I'd prefer that you did so.

On a similar note, while you're free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I wasted my life, I'll tell you you're wrong. We're all going to die of something. I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was.

"What an idiot! What a loser!"
Chaz Reingold, Wedding Crashers

"Oh and I don't want to die for you, but if dying's asked of me;
I'll bear that cross with honor, 'cause freedom don't come free."
American Soldier, Toby Keith

Those who know me through my writings on the Internet over the past five-plus years probably have wondered at times about my chosen profession. While I am not a Libertarian, I certainly hold strongly individualistic beliefs. Yet I have spent my life in a profession that is not generally known for rugged individualism. Worse, I volunteered to return to active duty knowing that the choice would almost certainly lead me to Iraq. The simple explanation might be that I was simply stupid, and certainly I make no bones about having done some dumb things in my life, but I don't think this can be chalked up to stupidity. Maybe I was inconsistent in my beliefs; there are few people who adhere religiously to the doctrines of their chosen philosophy, whatever that may be. But I don't think that was the case in this instance either.

As passionate as I am about personal freedom, I don't buy the claims of anarchists that humanity would be just fine without any government at all. There are too many people in the world who believe that they know best how people should live their lives, and many of them are more than willing to use force to impose those beliefs on others. A world without government simply wouldn't last very long; as soon as it was established, strongmen would immediately spring up to establish their fiefdoms. So there is a need for government to protect the people's rights. And one of the fundamental tools to do that is an army that can prevent outside agencies from imposing their rules on a society. A lot of people will protest that argument by noting that the people we are fighting in Iraq are unlikely to threaten the rights of the average American. That's certainly true; while our enemies would certainly like to wreak great levels of havoc on our society, the fact is they're not likely to succeed. But that doesn't mean there isn't still a need for an army (setting aside debates regarding whether ours is the right size at the moment). Americans are fortunate that we don't have to worry too much about people coming to try and overthrow us, but part of the reason we don't have to worry about that is because we have an army that is stopping anyone who would try.

Soldiers cannot have the option of opting out of missions because they don't agree with them: that violates the social contract. The duly-elected American government decided to go to war in Iraq. (Even if you maintain President Bush was not properly elected, Congress voted for war as well.) As a soldier, I have a duty to obey the orders of the President of the United States as long as they are Constitutional. I can no more opt out of missions I disagree with than I can ignore laws I think are improper. I do not consider it a violation of my individual rights to have gone to Iraq on orders because I raised my right hand and volunteered to join the army. Whether or not this mission was a good one, my participation in it was an affirmation of something I consider quite necessary to society. So if nothing else, I gave my life for a pretty important principle; I can (if you'll pardon the pun) live with that.

"It's all so brief, isn't it? A typical human lifespan is almost a hundred years. But it's barely a second compared to what's out there. It wouldn't be so bad if life didn't take so long to figure out. Seems you just start to get it right, and's over."
Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5

I wish I could say I'd at least started to get it right. Although, in my defense, I think I batted a solid .250 or so. Not a superstar, but at least able to play in the big leagues. I'm afraid I can't really offer any deep secrets or wisdom. I lived my life better than some, worse than others, and I like to think that the world was a little better off for my having been here. Not very much, but then, few of us are destined to make more than a tiny dent in history's Green Monster. I would be lying if I didn't admit I would have liked to have done more, but it's a bit too late for that now, eh? The bottom line, for me, is that I think I can look back at my life and at least see a few areas where I may have made a tiny difference, and massive ego aside, that's probably not too bad.

"The flame also reminds us that life is precious. As each flame is unique; when it goes out, it's gone forever. There will never be another quite like it."
Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5

I write this in part, admittedly, because I would like to think that there's at least a little something out there to remember me by. Granted, this site will eventually vanish, being ephemeral in a very real sense of the word, but at least for a time it can serve as a tiny record of my contributions to the world. But on a larger scale, for those who knew me well enough to be saddened by my death, especially for those who haven't known anyone else lost to this war, perhaps my death can serve as a small reminder of the costs of war. Regardless of the merits of this war, or of any war, I think that many of us in America have forgotten that war means death and suffering in wholesale lots. A decision that for most of us in America was academic, whether or not to go to war in Iraq, had very real consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Yet I was as guilty as anyone of minimizing those very real consequences in lieu of a cold discussion of theoretical merits of war and peace. Now I'm facing some very real consequences of that decision; who says life doesn't have a sense of humor?

But for those who knew me and feel this pain, I think it's a good thing to realize that this pain has been felt by thousands and thousands (probably millions, actually) of other people all over the world. That is part of the cost of war, any war, no matter how justified. If everyone who feels this pain keeps that in mind the next time we have to decide whether or not war is a good idea, perhaps it will help us to make a more informed decision. Because it is pretty clear that the average American would not have supported the Iraq War had they known the costs going in. I am far too cynical to believe that any future debate over war will be any less vitriolic or emotional, but perhaps a few more people will realize just what those costs can be the next time.

This may be a contradiction of my above call to keep politics out of my death, but I hope not. Sometimes going to war is the right idea. I think we've drawn that line too far in the direction of war rather than peace, but I'm a soldier and I know that sometimes you have to fight if you're to hold onto what you hold dear. But in making that decision, I believe we understate the costs of war; when we make the decision to fight, we make the decision to kill, and that means lives and families destroyed. Mine now falls into that category; the next time the question of war or peace comes up, if you knew me at least you can understand a bit more just what it is you're deciding to do, and whether or not those costs are worth it.

"This is true love. You think this happens every day?"
Westley, The Princess Bride

"Good night, my love, the brightest star in my sky."
John Sheridan, Babylon 5

This is the hardest part. While I certainly have no desire to die, at this point I no longer have any worries. That is not true of the woman who made my life something to enjoy rather than something merely to survive. She put up with all of my faults, and they are myriad, she endured separations again and again...I cannot imagine being more fortunate in love than I have been with Amanda. Now she has to go on without me, and while a cynic might observe she's better off, I know that this is a terrible burden I have placed on her, and I would give almost anything if she would not have to bear it. It seems that is not an option. I cannot imagine anything more painful than that, and if there is an afterlife, this is a pain I'll bear forever.

I wasn't the greatest husband. I could have done so much more, a realization that, as it so often does, comes too late to matter. But I cherished every day I was married to Amanda. When everything else in my life seemed dark, she was always there to light the darkness. It is difficult to imagine my life being worth living without her having been in it. I hope and pray that she goes on without me and enjoys her life as much as she deserves. I can think of no one more deserving of happiness than her.

"I will see you again, in the place where no shadows fall."
Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5

I don't know if there is an afterlife; I tend to doubt it, to be perfectly honest. But if there is any way possible, Amanda, then I will live up to Delenn's words, somehow, some way. I love you.

I can't say anything more.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Not much to say right now, I've been sick all week ( this is a really nasty bug going around), but I would like to say how much all of you in the Inali dancers and Black Fox drum, and everyone else in the the native community here have meant to me over the last twenty or so years. I wouldn't have made it without all of you!

So to all of you:


(look it up)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Before I get to the heart of the post, remember practice this friday at Ellen's. We need everyone there, we won't have any more practices before the winter dance.
Speaking of that, don't forget we're singing at the winter dance at Bradly University January 5th.
Most of us agree that we may have to cut back on things like scout meetings and nursing homes because we can't get enough people at them to do a good performance. I hate to see this, but we really don't see a choice. We need new people!
About the title of the post, I just read this article. It really shows the respect a lot of people have for native sensibilities:

MADISON, Ill. - An independent pollution-control agency has rejected environmentalists' claims that a planned landfill could desecrate possible burial grounds near the ruins of a once-thriving prehistoric city.

The Illinois Sierra Club and American Bottom Conservancy failed to show that Madison's approval process for a landfill near the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site was "fundamentally unfair," the Illinois Pollution Control Board ruled Thursday.

Environmentalists say the expanded site would be within 2,100 feet of the Cahokia Mounds site, where as many as 20,000 people lived during its peak of 1100 to 1200 A.D. It was among the among the most complex, sophisticated societies of prehistoric North America.

Nice view from the top of Monks Mound, won't it be?