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Traditional Dancers Walter And Ruth Bull

Archie King

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FEBRUARY/MARCH 1986      p48  
Walter and Ruth Bull During the summer months, this dancing duo can be seen at the various Indian Days throughout the western provinces and the American states. Dressed in their colorful regalia, they have placed high in traditional dancing.

In an interview, Walter Bull said they started dancing 25 years ago. It was in Winnipeg, Manitoba during a pow-wow held at the friendship center that they took the dare and participated. According to Ruth Bull, once you start dancing you cannot stop.

Passed down by his father, Walter said that traditional dancing originated from the welcome party held for the warriors returning from a battle or from a horse-stealing mission. The women would loosen their long hair and go out to meet the warriors. Before meeting the returning party, they would be standing on one spot and swag to the beat of the drum.

Also, Ruth said the colorful regalia worn by each dancer have special meanings. The various colors represent different areas and some are the color seen in a vision by the dancer. Each traditional dancer has their regalia made according to the honor bestowed upon them.

According to Walter, the high honor one can be given is to carry the eagle staff during the grand entry at any pow-wow. The person that carries the eagle staff is usually a war veteran. According to Walter, his father was a veteran and later this honor was passed on to him.

There are other members of the family that also participate in the powwows. Tina and Suzette Bull were encouraged to dance at a very early age according to their mother. The young girls have made their presence known in the dancing circle.

During his younger years, Walter was known for his singing voice. Teamed up with his other two brothers Albert and Walter, they made a difference at a dance. This singing tradition is carried on with his sons today.

Having lived in Cutknife for a number of years, Walter said that if the Indian can combine the two cultures together he sees no problem. The Indian can still live in the nonIndian community and still retain his culture.

Looking forward to their summer activities, they will be members of the Great Plains Dancing Troupe that will be performing at the Saskatchewan Pavilion during Expo '86 to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia.