August 14, 2013

The voices of the people

The voices of the people
Moran, Baker do more than just announce
By Jerry W. Kram

While there are many things that are memorable about celebrations like last weekend’s Little Shell Celebration or the Nuxbaaga Celebration in June, anyone attending these events can’t escape one aspect – the sounds.
The throbbing beats of the drummers echo off the bluffs and buttes of Missouri River shoreline. The songs draw you in whether or not you understand the language or not. The bells of the grass dancers and the jingle dress dancers keep step with the rhythms that have been a part of the plains for centuries.
Then there are the voices. Even to a newcomer, they sound like old friends. They keep the crowd entertained when other activities are slow, they keep the action moving, they educate and preserve the traditions that are an integral part of the celebrations. They also give voice to those who can’t speak for themselves.
They are the Emcees, the Masters of Ceremonies, and they are as much a part of the powwow experience as the dancers themselves.
Charlie Moran and Lawrence Baker have been Emcees on the Fort Berthold Reservation for more than two decades. They were joined in the “Crows Nest” at the Little Shell Powwow by Wallace Coffey of Lawton, Okla. Baker and Moran both say they got their start in announcing because an elder saw something in them and persuaded them to start announcing.
“I’m a mimic and I have been ever since I was a child,” Baker said. “I used to hear the announcers and my grandpa and I would walk around and sometimes imitate the. I would tell their jokes. I would be teased because I would be down in the basement and I would be doing my own giveaway.”


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