Johnston hypnotized more than a dozen students much to the amusement of all.
Published May 6, 2018
Theme: “Healing Through Culture”
RED LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION – The 13th Annual Red Lake Nation Youth Leadership Conference was held Wednesday thru Friday, May 2 – 4, 2018, at Red Lake High School in Red Lake Minnesota. The conference theme this year was “Healing Through Culture.” The conference featured national and local presenters and performers, youth activities and banquet.
Beginning at 6 pm Wednesday eve May 2, for the first time in the 13 years, a variety of entertainment kicked off the conference at the Red Lake Humanities Center featuring a fashion show, music, and comedy.
Things started off with a Miikawaadizi “Be Beautiful” Fashion Show with Dyami Thomas Escorting ladies, a Becca Lynn Performance, “The 1491’s” comedians, (Kasey Nicholson & Bobby Wilson) and at 8 pm, a round dance social. A banquet was held Thursday evening at Seven Clans Casino Event Center at 5 p.m. capped with valuable door prizes.
Workshops and presentations were held from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM on Thursday and Friday. As usual, several workshops occurred simultaneously. Topics included healthy relationships, healthy eating, wellness and food sovereignty, laughter and medicine, healing through culture, hand drum making, moccasin and medicine pouch making, moccasin game teaching, and Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers.
Learning the Moccasin Game.
This is the thirteenth year that the Red Lake Tribal Council, High School, tribal programs and other organizations have sponsored this great event for the youth of Red Lake Nation and others. A host of Red Lake member professionals, and well known guest speakers and performers from across Indian Country, joined together to share their knowledge in leadership skills to motivate youth, and to promote native values, tradition, and culture.
Day Two Highlights: Thursday, May 3, 2018
At 9:00 a.m., after registration and having their fill of fruit and pastry, students filled up the stands in the high school gymnasium for the Opening Ceremony.
A prayer and smudge offered by Ponemah elder Frances “Frannie” Miller was followed by a song by Little Bear Drum Group at the beginning of each days’ activities, the first day included a grand entry by Red Lake royalty.
After the song by Little Bear Drum, Red Lake Chairman, Darrell G. Seki, Sr., gave a welcoming address.
Seki spoke first in his first language Ojibwemowin as is his manner, then in English about the importance of education and the social ills that sometimes get in the way of success such as drugs, alcohol, and suicide. “Be respectful and remember that education is very important,” said Seki. “Say no to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and bullying. I like your theme of Healing through Culture, know who you are, be proud of who you are, you are Red Lake Anishinaabe.”
Seki was followed by the Red Lake Nation Youth Council who introduced themselves. Youth Council Chairman Matthew Antone gave a short introduction. The Youth Council, formed in 2006 with more than a dozen members, are key players in the organization of the three day Youth Leadership Conference.
Next up school officials Melinda Crowley, Red Lake Superintendent and Tracy Olson, Principal of Red Lake High School, spoke to those assembled.
Red Lake Chemical Health, Reyna Lussier, Project Director & Jessica Urrutia-Cook, Supervisor Indian & Free Program then welcomed the crowd and gave a synopsis of the agenda and workshops that would be held. The Chemical Health Programs are a major sponsor of the Youth Leadership Conference each year.
An hour before lunch and during the afternoon following a late lunch, two sessions of 6 to 8 assorted workshops were held most to be replicated the following day. Most sessions were repeated two or three times so that participants could be involved with workshops that were of interest.
Sessions included: Pow-wow Zumba with Ponemah’s Athena Cloud showing some fancy steps for the next powwow; Healthy Relationships with married couple and guest speakers Tyler “TJ” & Chance Rush; David Manuel of Red Lake conducted a workshop entitled Wellness and Food Sovereignty; and Red Lake member Elizabeth Strong spoke about the new to Red Lake program Native STAND.
(Native STAND is a comprehensive sexual health curriculum for Native high school students that focuses on sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and teen pregnancy prevention, while also covering drug and alcohol use, suicide, and dating violence.)
Ojibwe crafts were on the agenda as well, they included: Hand Drum Making with Kelly Iceman who often kept the beat on his own hand drum as students made their hand drums; Moccasin and Medicine Bag Making with Ponemah resident Vickie Fineday; and Moccasin Game teaching with Travis Owens.
Meanwhile in the high school’s beautiful Culture Room, Dyami Thomas & Becca Lynn Kirk conducted a session on Youth Empowerment.
Other sessions conducted later on Day Two and on Day Three included: Healthy Eating with Debra Hawthorn; Laughter is Medicine with guests the “1491’s” Kasey Nicholson & Bobby Wilson; Growing up in Foster Care with Red Lake’s own Mark Kingbird, Sr.; Healing through Culture with guest presenter Reuben Crowfeather; and last but far from least, Elder Teachings with Frances Miller & Elizabeth “Pug” Kingbird appropriately in the rustic Culture Room.
A general assembly was held at the end of the day, Thomas C. Barrett aka Thomas X spoke on the 7 Grandfather Teachings punctuated with original hiphop music on the Seven Teachings and other songs of Red Lake Nation pride. Barrett also introduced Floyd Jourdain who sang with his hand drum.
After a couple hour break, the students of Red Lake High School gathered at Seven Clans Casino and Event Center for the Youth Conference Banquet.
Day Three Highlights: Thursday, May 4, 2018
After a prayer, a drum song by Little Bear drum group and conference up-dates, Guest Speaker Reuben Crowfeather gave a keynote speech entitled Dreams & Goals that included a slide show.
Another session of workshops followed before all gathered again for a General Assembly in the High School Gym for perhaps the most fun part of the three-day conference, a Hypnotist show by Robert Johnston. (Muskogee Creek/Choctaw)
Johnston is a founding member of the Native Wellness Institute, is a motivational speaker, trainer and presenter who entertains (with his hypnotism) as well as enlightens.
The ever popular hypnotist Johnston has been a guest speaker and performer at 12 of the 13 Youth Conferences. He again provided a special performance just before closing on Friday. Johnston capped the day with raucous laughter. The popular and humorous Johnston, (a professional hypnotist) had the audience rolling in the aisles as he had a dozen students meeting their favorite celebrities, chasing their noses, a male basketball player about to have a baby, and other outrageous and comical stunts.
After some drawings and a closing ceremony, students were dismissed to the warm spring weather.
Photos by Michael Meuers.