Transcript: People of Ontario - Richard Lyons, Native People | Apr 27, 1990

(drumming and chanting)

A caption reads “People of Ontario.”

A group of men stand forming a circle. A new man walks towards him dress as a tribal chief. They play drums and sing along while the older cacique circles them dancing. The feathers of his headpiece are black and white with details in orange and yellow.

The caption changes to “Richard Lyons. Native Elder. Thunder Bay.”

Richard is in his sixties. He’s clean-shaven and wears the typical native American clothes.

He says
AS AN OLDER PERSON NOW,
I LIKE TO EXPRESS
MY FEELINGS FOR THE
YOUNGER PEOPLE NOW.
YOU KNOW, THEY'RE HAVE A
REALLY DIFFICULT TIME
TO ADJUST LIKE TO
THE WHITE WAYS.
THAT'S ONE THING I
COMMITTED MYSELF TO
IS SHOWING A BETTER IMAGE
OF NATIVE PEOPLE TO THE
WHITE SOCIETY THROUGH
DANCING AND SINGING.
I'VE DONE IN 1969; I
MADE A COMMITMENT
TO OUR CREATOR.
I SAID, I'D LIKE TO
SEE OUR YOUNGER PEOPLE
CONTINUE WITH IT.

As he speaks, a clip shows footage of another ceremony. In this case, Richard dresses a black gown with tribal details on the front piece. Others follow him dancing and playing instruments.

Richard continues
THEY'VE SHOWN US ON TV AND
MOVIES RUNNING AROUND A FIRE
WITH A TOMAHAWK AND BOW AND
ARROW, THEY SHOW DANCING
AND SINGING AND I
THOUGHT THAT WASN'T RIGHT.
SO I THOUGHT WELL IF I
WENT AROUND TO THE SCHOOLS
AND WENT AND DONE
PERFORMANCES IN VARIOUS
PLACES AND TALKED
TO PEOPLE AND SAY,
OH, IT'S NICE TO BE INDIAN,
IT'S NICE TO BE ABLE TO
DANCE AND SING HERE IN
YOUR OWN NATIONALITY.
SO, I GUESS THAT'S REALLY
WHAT I STARTED OUT
AS AND I'M STILL
DOING IT.

A group of men dance and play drums at a new festivity. Their costumes are colorful and men and women have their clothes finishes with feathers.

Richard continues
WE TALK ABOUT MEN'S
TRADITIONAL DANCE,
THEY SAY IT ORIGINATED
WHEN A MAN CAME BACK
FROM MAYBE A WAR PARTY
OR FROM A HUNTING TRIP
AND HE EXPRESSED
HIMSELF IN THAT WAY.
TO TELL A LITTLE
STORY WHEN HE DANCED.
YEARS AGO WHEN WE HAD OUR
OWN LITTLE POWWOW GROUNDS,
POW WOW HALL AS
WE CALLED THEM.
IT WAS CIRCULAR AND THE
LADIES JUST GOT UP WHERE
THEY WERE SITTING AND STOOD
IN ONE PLACE AND DANCED.
THAT'S THE LADIES
TRADITION AGAIN.
SO THERE'S THE NEWER
STYLE DANCE WE CALL FANCY
DANCING BY THE YOUNGER MEN
AND THE YOUNGER LADIES,
THEY'RE CALLED
FANCY SHAWL DANCERS.
AND AGAIN, THERE'S TWO
DIFFERENT STYLES OF DANCE.
LIKE A NUMEROUS
STYLE OF DANCING.
AMONGST THE OJIBWE
PEOPLE WE HAVE WHAT
WE CALL THE JINGLE
DRESS DANCERS.
IF YOU WENT IN THIS AREA
HERE, YOU'D SEE A LOT OF
JINGLE DRESS DANCERS THAT'S
MOSTLY OJIBWA WOMEN.
THE DRUM IS LIKE SOME
TRIBES THEY MENTION
A DRUM AS A LIVING
THING TO US.
SORT OF LIKE A LIVING
PERSON, SO WHEN WE USE IT
AND WHEN WE GET UP AND
DANCE, IT MAKES US FORGET
OUR PROBLEMS, EVEN IF YOU HAVE
BAD FEELINGS WITH A FRIEND.
WHEN YOU GET UP AND
DANCE, IT MAKES YOU
FORGET THESE THINGS.
IT'S NICE THAT NATIVE
PEOPLE NOW ARE GOING BACK
TO THEIR CUSTOMS, ESPECIALLY
THEIR DANCING AND SINGING.
THEY'RE ALSO GOING BACK
TO SOME OF THE BELIEFS
AND OUR WAY; AND THEY'RE
GETTING TO REALIZE THAT,
YOU KNOW, WE ARE, TO
ME, A SPECIAL PEOPLE
BECAUSE WE'RE THE ORIGINAL
KEEPERS OF NORTH AMERICA,
THIS BIG ISLAND.

Kids take part in the ceremonies. From very young to teenagers, all move along dancing and following the elder as the music plays.

Richard continues
AND IT'S SINCE WE ARE
THE FIRST PEOPLE HERE
IN NORTH AMERICA THEN,
IF THEY'RE TAUGHT THAT
AND TO BE PROUD THAT THEY'RE
NATIVE, AND TO REALIZE
THAT'S WHY I REALLY STRESS TO
THEM IT'S NICE TO BE NATIVE,
IT'S NICE TO DO SOME OF
THE TRADITIONAL THINGS,
IT'S NICE TO EXPRESS
OURSELVES WHEN WE PRAY.
WE CAN GO OUT IN OUR OWN
ENVIRONMENT OUT HERE
AND PUT TOBACCO DOWN AND
PRAY AND GIVE THANKS
TO THE CREATOR.
AND SAY IT'S NICE
TO BE HERE TODAY,
THANK YOU, GOD.
THANK YOU MANITO,
THANK YOU.
IT'S NICE TO BE NATIVE.

A canoe with two people on board sails away the calm waters at dawn.
(birds chirping)

The end credits roll.

Editor, Jim Crewe.

Producer and director, Inge Johnson.

A production of TV Ontario.

Copyright. The Ontario Authority. 1990.

Watch: People of Ontario - Richard Lyons, Native People