Virtual round dance singing keeps people connected
- Jeanelle Mandes | March 27, 2020
As people worldwide take cover from the coronavirus by isolating and social distancing themselves, many have been using social media as their platform to keep the Indigenous culture going.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many drummers, who were virtually nominated, have been posting videos of themselves singing round dance songs. This new trend spread like wildfire on social media.
A well-known drummer from the Big River First Nation released a video of himself singing. Harvey Dreaver, who is known as a legendary powwow and round dance singer, contributed to the trend and released his own Facebook video on March 23 with over 23,000 views and countless shares and comments.
He said in his video that during times of crisis, it’s a good time to sit down to make songs or to sing, as music uplifts his spirit.
“Singing with friends and relatives has always been an enjoyment for me,” he said. “Growing up with drums and songs, we’re always reminded by our Elders that we’re sharing good feelings good medicine [through singing].”
Dreaver encourages others to take precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Stay home and enjoy your family time, if you’re alone smudge pray and enjoy the solitude and find a craft, art, activity you’ve wanted to try or pick up again,” he said. “Be thankful for each and every day that we walk on Mother Earth. Be happy.”
Desirae Desnomie, from the Peepeekisis Cree Nation, and her partner, Opie Day, from Bois Forte Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota, have also been part of the virtual round dance singing trend. The couple live in Bismarck, North Dakota, but use social media to stay connected with their loved ones.
But they also use it as a way to stay connected with their culture of singing amongst many others.
Desnomie said they have been dealing with social distancing one day at a time.
“We have been making meals and baking goodies, doing homework, watching TV series, and singing,” she said. “We always sing as a family because it makes us feel good and sets a tone in our home fire. We have decided as a family to make the best of the situation and enjoy our time together.”
She and her partner have been going live on Facebook and sharing powwow and round dance videos because it makes them feel good to sing and forget about what’s going on during this pandemic.
“We’d also like to encourage others to not feel shy to sing and show your gifts and talent. If you are drawn to that energy, to the drum, pick it up, ask someone to teach you, ask questions,” she added. “Our culture and traditions are what is going to help us move forward. Singing and dancing and our cultural ways is what will help us through trying times and it will take care of us.”
A Facebook page called Social Distance Powwow dedicated to singing and dancing was established to keep people who are in quarantine or in isolation occupied during the pandemic.