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A Lawyer, A Powwow Dancer - Dean Head

Blanche Crowley-Head

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      POWWOW ISSUE 1999      v29 n02 p08  
Dean Head Like many First Nation kids in Saskatchewan during the 1970's, Dean grew up in the arms of the foster care system. It wasn't until his teen years that he had the opportunity to rebuild his connections with his family, community and cultural background. As a teenager and young man, he remembers watching powwows from the stands, wishing he could be one of the dancers out there on the floor.

His maternal grandmother, an old Sioux woman named Florence Duquette, now in her 90's, was one of the first to take him in hand after he returned to his reserve. She instilled in Dean a sense of pride and belonging by teaching him about his Lakota Sioux background, both in terms of genealogy and teachings. After a few years, he left the reserve again, this time to attend university in Regina. There, he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Indian Art at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, and assumed a lectureship with the Indian Art department. By now he had met his future wife, Blanche, as well as a man named Bob Boyer, who would become his mentor.

Dean entered a new era in his life as a married man. This year was marked by the compelling desire to put his dream of dancing powwow into action. At first, Dean remembers, "I tried to do everything (getting ready to dance) without really involving my family, which is the worst thing anyone can do." He didn't realize it clearly, but "Blanche kept everything on an even keel and continues to do so... With her support, I find the strength to look beyond my own insecurities and try to do those things that I've always wanted to try, everything from painting to dancing, law, acting, martial arts and radio announcing ...By the same token, she's the one who makes sure I realize that nothing is worth anything unless you couple it with trying to be a good person."

Dean feels that dancing powwow would not be possible if not for his wife and kids. "It's simply not possible. Family is why my wife and 1, in turn, make sacrifices in order to be able to do the things we dare to dream about, whether it's dancing powwow, or becoming a lawyer." Without his family, Dean asks, "How would I dance? How could I dance?"

It took Dean a year to prepare to dance. Kohkom arranged for his naming. She enlisted the help of the

(continued on page 16)


A Lawyer, A Powwow Dancer - Dean Head

Blanche Crowley-Head

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      POWWOW ISSUE 1999      v29 n02 p16  
(continued from page 8)

Dean Head late Archie Waditaka of Wahpeton First Nation. Bob Boyer of Regina, who was head of the Indian Art department, and a longtime traditional dancer himself, helped Dean assemble his regalia and go through the appropriate process. "Bob helped me in so many ways, that even to attempt to list them would feel disrespectful. He was, and still is, more than a friend, fellow dancer, and fellow artist. He's like my big brother, he's my friend. It was Bob and Wayne Goodwill who brought me into the circle so many years go."

His grandmother selected his colors and designs of his traditional dance outfit. Women from his side of the family and his wife's side of the family, all had a hand in the hundreds of hours it took to put all the beaded pieces together. When he wears his outfit, and the sun sparkles off the thousands of turquoise sky blue beads, Dean feels honored to dance for them.

When asked what he thinks about when he is dancing, Dean replies, "There are a number of thoughts that continually run through my mind, not so much in terms of words or even pictures, but rather in terms of feelings and presence. I feel a great privilege to be there. The music truly does flow through you, the earth, and the air. At times, it's very much like praying in movement and giving thanks that our peoples are here, and at this moment, we are healthy and happy. No politics of who or who is not an Indian and what that means, just our Peoples dancing and celebrating our peace and our gifts. There's nothing like it."

Dean concludes by remarking that he always has the sense that when he is dancing at a powwow, "There are others who may be watching me dance, just as I watched years ago, wishing they could be out here on the floor. I can't help but be grateful that an opportunity was opened for me, and maybe I'll be able to help that person in some way."

Dean is happy to have added a new son to his family this year, and he is currently finishing writing his bar exams. When he's not practicing law with Pearson Rask Law Firm in Saskatoon this summer, he'll finally be back out on the powwow trail, now that the long years of legal study are finished.

  Aho!