March 20, 2010

Alphin and Blackfoot Confederacy Drum Group

Country meets powwow

Artists collaborate on Blackfoot album

By Heath McCoy
Big Kenny Alphin's signature top hat was cast aside, replaced with a majestic native headdress, its black-tipped feathers pointed to the sun.

The country rocker--half of the hit-making duo Big & Rich--had his face painted yellow and red as part of an unforgettable ritual.

Sacred powwow songs were sung and prayers were recited. Brightly adorned men, women and children danced for their ancient spirits. Within hours, the first snowfall came to the valley, just outside the southern Alberta town of Longview, as if summoned by the ceremony.

Four Blackfoot First Nations tribes had come to make the famed singer one of their own. Alphin still chokes up when he remembers the day in October 2008, documented in a video for his song "Wake Up," which features the Blackfoot Confederacy Drum Group.

At the ceremony's end, Alphin was anointed with his Blood name, Miistakiis Skomaatii--Mountain Boy. It's a moment that brings him great pride.
Comment:  For more on Natives and country music, see Johnny Cash, Ira Hayes, and Bitter Tears and Carrie Underwood, Creek Idol?

Below:  "Big Kenny Alphin traded his signature hat for feathers."

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