Sunday, December 28, 2008

From Grandpa Yellow Fly

The Yellow Flys: My Grandma (Cecille), Grandpa (Percy), Chuckling Uncle (Sherman), and Mom (Sharon)

As a gift over the holidays, my mom surprised me with an heirloom of my grandfather, Percy Yellow Fly. My grandfaher became the first Band Manger for our tribe (Siksika Nation) and also served as Chief and a Councilman for many years. In 1981, he traveled to London with other Native Diplomats to meet with the Queen to discuss treaty rights. Gaa?s (this is how you say grandpa in Siksika...the "?" is a glottal stop---a throaty sound) was very involved with the community and did many things for our tribe. He passed in 2005 afer a long and proud life.

Roach With Attached Beaded Head Band

At some point in his life he was given a roach. A roach is something one wears on their head (generally a dancer). It is made of porcupine and horse hair. I have one and wear one when I Grass Dance. The roach my grandfather received was given to him many years ago, and it must be a very old item. He later gave it to my mother, and I was honored to receive this item as a gift this past Christmas.

Top Of Roach

It's a huge honor, but its also a big responsibility. I don't know whether I should seal it up and keep it stored in a closet somewhere, or whether to dance with it. I'm sure what I'm supposed to do will come to me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oahu

Earlier this month, I was lucky to venture to the island of Oahu with a friend. This was the time to go. I left freezing temperatures back home and enjoyed tropical weather (tried to get a tan, but wish I got darker).

For the first six days we were on Oahu's North Shore. I'd always heard of this area---mainly because of the tons of surfing going on here, and the huge waves this stretch of beach is known for. While we were there, some surfing competitions were going on. Apparently, there is also a rogue surfing competition always waiting to take place. It goes down if the waves are some huge height (I think like 100ft or more!)---it didn't happen while we were there. I still liked the waves. I liked sleeping to them. I liked watching them. I liked playing in them.

Chickens At the Shrimp Truck

The North Shore was cool because it was fairly chill for Oahu---which is the most populated of the Hawaiian islands. There were lots of surfer bums, ex-pat-types, shrimp trucks (as opposed to taco trucks, which I'm accustomed to on the mainland), etc.

Surfers On The North Shore

Turtle Bay Resort was pretty nice. It was in the middle of it all on the North Shore. If you've seen the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall, then you've seen this hotel. The hotel, one of its restaurants, and some beach scenes were filmed in the movie.

Lighthouse On Southeast Corner Of Oahu

Made a loop around the island, and this proved fruitful because we went to a pretty awesome beach: Kailua Beach State Park (next to an equally nice beach called Lanikai). This is a nice beach for swimming in sandy-bottomed clear blue waters, as well as laying out on nice soft sand. This beach has the benefit of not being too crowded because it is off the beaten path and is surrounded by residential neighborhoods (vs. hotels). Once on the beach, you can travel up the beach for 3 miles until you find that nice patch of sand.

Palms At Kailua

I don't know if they're regulars, but I saw the coolest thing--a woman with four dogs (pug, beagle, weiner dog, and lab), and she swam with all of them for a long time. The pug was statuesque on a boogie board while one of the other dogs pulled. Very cool-crew. :)

Also made a visit to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. It was super touristy, but I like pineapples, so it wasn't too bad. They also have a fairly large maze there, and Jen & I racked our brains for an hour or so trying out a "scavenger hunt".


Pineapples

Another major highlight for me was the luau we went to. It was a small one on the grounds of Turtle Bay Resort. It was cool though. There was a troupe from the nearby Polynesian Cultural Institute---they did pretty good, and their "MC" was a "smooth" talker and pretty funny. But what am I writing about here...we all know a luau is all about the food, baby!! yeah, I had a few types of seafood, some teriyaki beef, some pork, and of course some poi (I had two bowls of poi, son!!).

Alas, after about 6 days, we had to leave the North Shore, and into Oahu's beehive known as Honolulu. Don't get me wrong, Honolulu isn't that dire of a city. It's just a big city in a tropical place. So as long as you're near the beach (or a palm tree), Honolulu shines. We were lucky to stay at the old and storied Moana Surfrider hotel, and our backyard for two days was the sleepy Pacific and Waikiki Beach.

Upon entering the Surfrider the game to play is to not get trampled by newlyweds. Yes, it seems like there was a bridal-gowned woman and tuxedo-ed man around every nook and cranny in the Surfrider's lobby. You can't fault them though, the Moana Surfrider is classically picturesque. And, in the lobby the other major feature: a huge "snow"-covered Christmas Tree.

Christmas Tree & Ms. Big Crow

So, here we were on the world-famous Waikiki beach. I was fine with spending most of our last couple days in Hawaii on the beach or in the water. I needed a tan!! I managed to get a little dark and freckled, so I was happy.

All in all, had a nice vacation from the chilly Pacific Northwest.

One More Sunset

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Trip To Arcata (Oct. 15 -19, 2008)

I don't know why it took me so long to finally get to blogging about this trip, but here it is--better late than never, eh?

I had just got back from a trip to Salt Lake City (worked a few days), and then made the long drive down to Humboldt County. The drive down was fairly uneventful (which is good and bad for an 11-hr drive). A high point--catching the sunset as I hit the Pacific coast in Crescent City. The California Coast is hard to be away from.

Sunset At Crescent City

One of the primary reasons for the trip to Humboldt was to hang out with Ari and Jeremy, but another thing going on at Humboldt was the Indigenous People's Week (IPW) at HSU. This was something which started back in about 1996-97 when I was there. A group of us Native students organized the first IPW---wow, such a long time ago. I remember how we all dressed up in black, like ninjas, boarded Tee's old white Nissan pickup, and then posted all sorts of Native signs around the campus. It was subversive and fun.

Here we are over 10-years later, and the IPW is still around. This year my sister Ari, and her boyfriend worked with others in organizing it. One of the highlights for me was my mother being invited to be a keynote speaker for the Week. She was there to give two talks. One on her Residential School experience in Canada, and another on her work with Siksika Language and Its Preservation.

My Mom and Her Class

Sharon Yellow Fly, our mom, gave a heartfelt and powerful presentation on her experience in "Boarding School". My mother gave a history on the governmental policy of Canada and the Queen with regards to Native children. A policy which was carried out for over a century and which lasted as recently as the '70s. Generations of children were scarred by this and it started a cycle of dysfunction generations of Native communities still deal with. My mom survived this and she came out on top and became a very loving, intelligent, and strong Native woman. My mom gave a really informative talk, but it was also personal and there were some moments which were hard to hear, but it was still good to hear her words. I know my sister and I were very proud of her talk.

Names In Our Family

The next morning my mom gave a more technical talk on her work with our tribe's language. She covered some of the basics of the Siksika language. She also talked about the Siksika Dictionary she has written. This is a project I hope she publishes, but her main priority was making this document for us, her children. It was an awesome talk, and I was happy that one of my good friends (Vincent Feliz) from Humboldt was able to make the talk.

My Home For Several Years (right next to the laundromat)

Ari and Dogs At Mad River Beach

The Ear of Gomez

After these duties were fulfilled we hung out in Humboldt. We had an awesome time heading down to the Lost Coast one morning. We also took a trip out to the Mad River Beach. This is a beach I went to all the time, and this is the closest one to Ari & Jeremy's house. Had a cool time taking a salsa lesson at Muddy's Coffee shop.

Un-Dam the Klamath!!

Arcata Farmer's Market

Honey

What else, oh I also did the "ceremonial" game of "21" with my homies, Vinny "Bag 'o Donuts" and Chag "Two Egg Breakfast". Even though we're all older, Chag still has that money outside shot, Vince has some crazy ball-handling skills, and I still run around like I'm on crack. Many laughs ensued and my jaw was sore from laughing so hard.

California N8V Ballers

Our stay was capped off by heading to the Lowry household for a nice yummy meal (a la Luzmila's) and then playing a game of cards. I'd never really played much before, but I ended up doing alright. I didn't get spanked like Vince did, so I was happy. ;)

Pimps


Cards With The Homies!


Getting His Hat Handed--I Love Ya, Chumash!!

Seattle Salsa Congress (November 28-30 2008)


Months of salsa training culminated to this: My First Salsa Congress

What's a salsa congress you might ask? Well, it's not as political as it sounds. Its more of a gathering for those interested in salsa dance. At a congress you get the opportunity to see some of the best salsa dancers and instructors in the country. They give several performances during the "Congressional Session". One also gets to attend workshops/classes (by several of these professionals) and learn things like new and cool salsa combinations, musicality, or the history of salsa. And the Friday/Saturday nights culminates with social dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

Dana, Christian And The Aussies

A cool thing about this Congress is that my salsa teachers (Dana & Christian--the best salseros!) organized a Tri-Cities crew to head over. About seven of us made it for the Congress and then another two joined up for the social dancing on Saturday. It was so cool to check out the Congress with the homies. ;)

One good thing about this particular Congress: it's right after Turkey Day!! So, you can wake up bright and early on Friday morning, get your salsa on, and work off that cranberry sauce! I'm not joking Friday and Saturday were very long days of salsa. I paced myself, and did Friday for about a half day, and then headed back up to hang with Tee & Asia (we then met up with the Sirois' at Pyramid and then the Tap Room--very cool).

Asia, Two Siksikas, A Colville, And A Cree At Pyramid Ale House

Saturday was the big day for me. I went for a the full day. This was class from about 9am till about 7pm. Then the performance at 9pm, and then social dancing (via DJs) until the wee hours of the morning.
Christian and Priscilla

As for the instructors, there were some good ones and so-so ones. I'll just mention my favorites. The Spaniards, Antonio & Vanesa, were awesome. Antonio's english was a little rough, but he's a good dancer. I liked how he showed a move from the combo, and would then scream out, "is that ok?! C'mon, say something? Ok?!?". Anyway, I ended up taking two classes from them, and they showed some ok footwork, and some really awesome combos.

video
Antonio & Vanesa's 2nd Combo

The other big instructor was Alex Da Silva. He's taught many music and movie stars and has acted as choreographer on several reality shows. He and his partner (whose name escapes me), were very funny and did some awesome combos which were fun and sexy. He had big crowds for both of his classes.
video
Alex Da Salva's 2nd Combo

After the two days of intense salsa-ness, I actually could see myself beginning to get this stuff. I've had the best instruction from Christian and Dana, and everything they taught plus the Congress and then the social dancing just all came together nicely. I can finally see myself transitioning froma clueless novice to an actual "salsa person"-- very cool. I just need to keep it up!!

Filming The Moves!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Very Heated Evening

Right now it's 9:20pm and I'm sitting in an AC room here at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore. Usually the AC would be off, and my friend Jen Big Crow and I would have the patio door open listening to the waves crashing outside, BUT.......

After a full day of exploring the Windward side of Oahu, hanging out at Kailua beach for a few hours, and having some greasy shrimp truck food, I had the bright idea of going for a workout. It all started well. Ran for 13 min (that shoulda been an omen). Then did my usual exercises--pull-ups, ab jack knives, arm curls, etc. I ended my workout by doing some leg presses. Started out at about 200lbs, but for my fourth set, I did all the weight--about 400lbs.

I then walked outside, and Jen followed me shortly after. Within a few seconds, I started to feel bad (it was warmer outside than in the gym). It was dark outside, but still warm. I was able to walk a bit, but I was quickly becoming quezzy. Jen was very concerned and asked what she could do. I played "brave", and said I was ok, but then asked if we could sit down. We sat on a bench in the dark right above the water. Sitting down and breathing didn't seem to help. I began to get nauseated (wanted to puke!), tired, and was feeling out of it. At this point, I heard, "I'll be right back, Corey". I laid down on the bench...at some point I think I burped some grossness in my mouth **sorry for being graphic...I just don't want to forget this, and want to document**

The next symptom was the scariest. I sat up, opened my eyes, and I couldn't see anything!! I knew I was blinking, and I was looking toward lights, but I couldn't see anything. "Am I having a stroke, am I blacking out, will I need an ambulance", I thought to myself. I was freakin'! All of a sudden Ms. Big Crow (my hero!) showed up with a cup of cold water, and then put a cold-water-soaked towel on my neck. Within seconds my sight came back. I downed the water. I was slowly starting to feel better. Jen went and gave me another cold towel.

After a few minutes, I was back to a state where I felt I could move around again. I felt so dumb, old, weak--you name it. My body rarely fails me, but this night my "mortal-ness" was exposed.

Thanks to nurse Big Crow, and her quick thinking, I'm still here! :)

Pictures Of The North Shore & Windward Side...Enough Said.

This Is Sunrise This Morning, And The View Out Of Our Lanai


Flowers and Rabbit Island On Oahu's Windward Coast

Jen And The Dog Crew In The Kailua--the Dog Crew was a woman, and four dogs (pug, beagle, weiner dog, and a lab...the pug rode on a boogie board the whole time, and the other dogs swam!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mr. Obama Goes To Washington

Have heard stories of a mythical cinema hidden within the U. District. It was said to be teeny tiny, but showed films with heart and intelligence. Now I made it there on a wing and a prayer just as the reels were spinning. My horse was tied down to a hitchin' post down the street (and it was free since it was after 6pm!).

The viewing room is tiny (fit for about 80-100 souls). Her walls are thin (you can hear the passing 808's bump as they roll by), but this theater met all the expectations I had for it. Very independent, full of character, and worth many return visits.

Oh, and it has a coffee shop connect to it.


As for what I saw, I saw a viewing of "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington". I'd been wanting to see it on the big screen for ages, and jumped on the chance. Jefferson Smith is such a noble, humble, and heroic character. Jean Arthur plays his "Sancho" well and her personality and looks are certainly pleasing to the eye. Now I wish they had hankie dispensers when they show these damn Capra movies, because I always grow teary-eyed watching this movie--Damn You, Capra!!!

This is one of my favorite films, and it is one of those stories filled with hope which makes me excited for our Mr. Obama Whose in Washington.