Sunday, November 20, 2016

Wilbo Wants to Travel the United States the Way Supaman Travels America, Going Auditorium to Auditorium, Giving Teachings on the Warrior Way of Good Medicine.

Our community college is pulling out all the stops to reach out to Muskegon's diverse communities. After a great observance of Veteran's Day, the only community college between Berrien and Mason counties launched the first annual Native American Heritage Week. The week included screenings of Native American films, bringing more than one filmmaker to town. Professors delivered scholarly papers examining Native American culture from legal, literary and mythological perspectives.

What really brought down the house, though, was Supaman, a man from Crow Agency Montana who brought his act to MCC's gymnasium Friday night. Dressed up in the regalia of a fancy dancer, Supaman blends Native American dance and song with all the strengths of American hip hop. We were a stop on his nationwide "Good Medicine" tour, and he brought his A game. 

Part of his show peeled back the myth of the Fancy dancer. Indian dance didn't become the frenetic dance of the pow wow culture until Western Natives auditioned for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. The fancier dancers tended to get the job more often, and even the regalia became more complicated as a result. 

Part of the show taught the idea of good medicine. Every young person of his tribe is taught the warrior ideal, which isn't about fighting. It's about respect. A young man who sees an elder and then takes action to help that elder is a warrior. The warrior helps the elder without asking. It might be as simple as bringing a plate of food to an elder at a feed. Being a warrior in this way is Good Medicine. 

Good Medicine had many features Friday night. After having us dance with him through two songs with a tee shirt we thought he was going to throw into the audience, like at a Lumberjack game, he stopped and declared, "I want to give away this Supaman tee shirt, if anybody wants it". He had to say that ten times before a child ran to him and snagged it. "If you really want something, you have to run out and grab it", he taught. It's okay to run out and grab good medicine.

We were continually asked to turn to our neighbors for what might be called "the sign of peace" in a church. But each time, the request was different. One time, he asked us to give our neighbor two compliments. My neighbor drove all the way from Ludington with his wife and asked me to call him Boo Boo, just like the name of Yogi the Bear's companion. He gave me a small packet of tobacco wrapped in cloth and tied off with a ribbon, a little bag of good medicine to help me on my way home. 

Although the gymnasium wasn't full, the abundant audience contained many adults with children, who loved the way Supaman could spin a few simple sounds into a beat and then turn a beat into a dance. We were often in a trance as he worked his dance magic. When he had to snap us out of it, he had a string of jokes that he told as well as a borscht belt comic.

Considering that Google has invited Supaman to teach at the Googleplex, it was a rare honor for the Native American teacher and entertainer to grace our community college.
 — at Muskegon Community College.

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