Jason: Good that you’re all here. I’m glad to see all of you. We are going to get started. Being here at the Trail of Tears conference, I wanted to touch on the Five Civilized Tribes. Back home, in the Moki, the Shimoli man… where did Jake go? He’s a busy man like me. I think he had to leave. I was hoping he… yeah, he’s saying his farewells over there. But back home, when we have our stomp dance, and some of you are familiar with stomp dance, the first song we will always sing is called the “In Tooa Inla”—the friendship song, the friendship dance.

One good thing about speaking to people, I love honoring the great people that I’ve met. I want to go back to 1992 as it was told to me. The Chickasaw Nation, our songs were asleep. They needed to be reawakened, and we needed help to do that. Our great esteemed leader, Governor Anby, went to Ny Oani H. Faen Cully, a great man named Faren Cully, and he told him, “Isap Obama, we need your help.” Faren was a Creek man. He worked in our maintenance department; he was over our maintenance department, but he belonged to a ceremonial ground with the Creek Nation, Okus, I believe was the name of his tribal town. But Governor says, “Faren, we need your help.”

Faren goes to his ceremonial grounds chief; he’s got to have approval to do such things. His ceremonial grounds chief gave approval for Faren to help us out. Now, this is 30 years ago, and here we are 30 years later. The Chickasaw Nation Dance Troop, we are goodwill ambassadors on behalf of the Chickasaw Nation wherever we’re invited. My point to that: one man said yes, and that’s a life lesson to me. This one man said yes, and now look where we are 30 years later. Again, a life lesson. We’re going to Okasi; we open the door, as we say.

Anby explained the meaning of this friendship song to me. He kind of took me under his wing; he made this coconut shell rattle for me too. Unfortunately, cancer got this great man, the Sha. That’s a respectful way of saying that he’s passed away. I may say that too often while I’m talking to you, but the Sha took… he explained the meaning of this song, the friendship song. He said, “Jason, when we get to adulthood, we all have responsibility; we all have obligations in this life. None of us are separated from that. But,” he says, “when we open the door, Okasa, whatever’s going on in your life, whatever circumstances may be going on in your life, it’s not welcome here. When we open this door, you leave everything outside the door. This is a time of giving thanks, a time of celebration.”

Faren went on to tell me, “Jason, when the dance is over, you feel free to pick up whatever circumstance, whatever weight you may be carrying in your life. But right here, right now, it’s not welcome here.” I cling to that story all my days. Anytime that I get to sing our songs, whatever is in my life, it doesn’t matter. And I invite you to do the same thing. It’s called life. We all have something going on, but it’s not welcome here, okay? In 40 minutes or however long, you feel free to pick up whatever circumstances are in your life, but right here, it’s not welcome. We are going to open the door with a friendship song.

I don’t think I need this microphone; I’m naturally loud.

Oh, holy Holy, holy Holy Holy, holy Holy, holy Holy, holy Holy, holy Holy

Oho Oho, he He, he, he He And that is how we open the door. Now, I recruited some men, didn’t I? I recruited you. Funka, y’all remember? We say come on up here. Come on, come on. We’re sharing our cultures today. This is my stomp dance song, and we did this back in Kendu, Kentucky. All right, y’all going to come up and help? I was going to come to y’all, but yeah, come on up here. This Creek man right here… he knew what I was talking about. Oh, he’s a Creek man, that’s why he knows. I call the Creek people the grandfathers of stomp dance. The Creek people are the grandfathers and the Shimoli, the Seminole as well. Let me quit talking. Let’s give these volunteers a big hand clap. I told them we were going to have about a 25-second rehearsal. Yeah, let’s make it fun, okay?

We Are Spiritual, praying people, and this is glorifying God.

Hly, hly, hly This is me all right

You want to hold? Well, we’re a group up here. Okay, so I’m just going to quickly translate most of this song. Again, we’re spiritual, praying people. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. Thank you for giving us this day. We praise you always. We glorify you always. He shall strengthen thine heart. Lord, you are peace. Lord, You Are My Strength. Lord, you are my light. Lord, you are my everything. You understand everything, God. You see everything, God. You know everything, God. You love us very much. All praise to God. Watch over us. So that’s what we’re going to sing.

Running out of hands, is it? See, that M is pretty sensitive. Anyway, okay, so we’re going to share some stomp. Some of you are familiar with stomp dance, some of you aren’t, but this is another form of worshiping Our God.

Oho, holy Holy, holy Holy, holy Oho, holy

Y’all feel that? Y’all feel that? Thank you. Okay, and that is stomp dance. Now, imagine you’ve got 50 men, 50 women shaking them shells. It’s beautiful, sounds like a train’s coming, and you hear all them women shaking them shells. Anyway, glad to share a little stomp dance with y’all. I want to talk a little bit about our removal. We were removed in 1837, and again, it was hard. Being here, it’s good to be with people of a like mind, of the same heart. We are the Five Civilized Tribes, but every tribe has their story.

We were removed in 1837, and again, not much was easy about it. We have Miss Ladonna Brown here somewhere; she’s going to give a presentation in a little while. We were at a language conference when I was in the language department with the elders. We went to sing Choctaw hymns, and we’ll do a few of those in a little while. After we were done singing our hymns, Ladonna’s mother, Pauline Brown, and Lok… she’s passed away also. She’s looking down on us, I believe that. After we got through singing Choctaw hymns, she stood up and spoke a few words. The removal has always been an interest of mine, and today, you can get on the internet; there’s a wealth of information about Cherokee removal, Choctaw removal, Chickasaw removal. But my interest was personal experience. I wanted to know about personal experience, and those are not so easy to come by.

Miss Pauline Brown, her grandfather was on the removal, and she became of age and wanted to know what happened. She was met with a similar reply, but he did tell her, “Those people were very mean to us.” I don’t know anything else but to share my heart

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Jason Burwell

Jason: Good that you’re all here. I’m glad to see all of you. We are going to get started. Being here at the Trail of Tears conference, I wanted to touch on the Five Civilized Tribes. Back home, in the Moki, the Shimoli man… where did Jake go? He’s a

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