The Wabanaisee Singers (Snowbird Singers) arose out of our Women's Circle at the Elijak Elk Seventh Generations building on the Saginaw Chippewa Isabella Reservation in 2004-05. The founder of our group is Mae Pego a strong woman, lifelong songbird (big drum backup singer), dancer, and repository for traditional and ceremonial knowledge. Our Elder advisor was Gramma Hilda Syrette, and our group's name was given to us by elder- Jack Chambers. The first Snowbird class members are as follows: Mae Pego, Mary Lynn, Daisy Kostus, Wasson Dillard, Anita Hall, Kim Wensaut, Melanie Storm (Fish), Angie Makomenaw, Casey Brant, Lee Ruffino, Bea Jackson, Dawn Pelcher, later came Julie Whitepigeon, Kimi Alani, Ndaunis Pego, Debbie Petersen, Lois Dockery, Dani Sineway and others came and sang with us while visiting, some stayed, some had to move away for jobs.
Today the group consists of Mae Pego, Anita Hall, Lois Dockery, Daisy Kostus, Beatrice Jackson, Christa Gomez, Judy Golda Dale Scheuffele, Carol Corbiere, Occassionally when we can make it back as we all moved: Wasson Dillard, Angie Makomenaw, Melanie Fish, Mary Lynn, and Casey Brant.
Stay tuned for more on the history of the Wabanaisee....
If you are in the Traverse City Area this coming week and attending the National Indian Health Board Conference you will get a chance to hear the Wabanaisee Singers!
Links to articles on the Wabanaisee Singers:
Excerpt from interview with the Great Lakes Folk Festival:
As Wabanaisee leader Mae Pego expresses, "Our elders tell us that the drum is the heartbeat of our nation and the drumbeat is the heartbeat of our mother earth. We sing for peace, strength, unity, and mother earth…We are never alone in this journey. We acknowledge and say miigwech [thanks] to the creator for the many blessings in our lives, mother earth, our ancestors and the future generations. For the gift of our deweigan (drum), the songs, and the song dreamers. To our families, friends, children and grandchildren."
Wabanaisee is a contemporary style Anishnabeg women's hand drum group formed in 2005. Within the group's first year, they requested a name from a traditional man who was guided by the spirits to bless them with the name Wabanaisee an Anishnabeg word that translates in English to describe the snowbird, a white bird known as a tough little bird that braves the long, cold northern winters and is rarely seen alone, preferring to sing and playfully fly around in groups. Like the snowbird, members of Wabanaisee enjoy a successful closeness, choosing to live their lives following the practices and ethics of their ancestors who guide every aspect of their lives.
Wabanaisee performs honor songs, ceremonial songs, social songs, and round dance songs they have created as well as ones they have learned from others. Some are sung with vocables, others are sung in the Anishnabeg language, and still others are in English. Some women have joined the group with their instruments in hand while others waited for them to be reveled. The relationship between the drum and the shaker is considered personal and, for many, their instruments serve as an extension of the family.
As Mae says, "Our deweigan and the teachings that come from the drum along with our mind, body, and spirit are treated with reverence and respect. We believe we have been entrusted to care for our drum and shaker, and we always consider these sacred items before during and after our performance. We encourage and educate our audience to listen with a spiritual ear as we continue to bring women songs forward to various community functions, and ceremonies."
Link to original article.
Link to Great Lakes Folk Fest article.
Link to article on the Wabanaisee from the Morning Edition WKAR archives.
Link to article and interview that appeared on Native America Calling Radio Show.
Link to American Indian Studies Consortium Graduate Student Conference where the Wabanaisee sang.
Link to article that appeared on Indianz.com on the Wabanaisee Singers singing at the request of Dennis Banks at the Longest Walk 2 Washington D.C.
Link to article from the Longest Walk 2 webpage (reprint of Mt Pleasant Morning Sun article)