Indiana Weekend – Episode 1 “Andersontown Powwow”

Indiana Weekend – Episode 1 “Andersontown Powwow”

[upbeat country
acoustic guitar playing] (John Strauss)
This is Indiana Weekend… some of the most interesting
people and places from around our region. These are the stories
you won’t always see on the regular news… voices you won’t
always hear elsewhere. Hi, I’m John
Strauss. This is the first
of a monthly
program… kind of a news
magazine show with stories just
a bit off the
beaten path. Join us for
this half-hour, and when you’ve
had a look, let us know
what you think. This week, a look
at art behind bars… the volunteers who
teach painting at the Pendleton
Correctional Facility. But first, it shouldn’t
be too much of a surprise given that our state’s name
means “Land of the Indians” that you can find dozens
of Native American pow-wows and other Indian events in the
state throughout the year. Among the best-known is
the Andersontown pow-wow based on the idea
that Anderson and Muncie were both once villages
of the Lenape Indians, also known
as the Delaware. A pow-wow is a celebration, and for those who
get the chance to visit with some of
the tribal members, a real education. So it was that we got
to visit with Dee Ketchum, former chief
of the tribe. I grew up in
Bartlesville, Oklahoma, which is, uh — the government moved
our tribe there in 1867. All of this revolves
around, uh, Chief Anderson because some
of the individuals, my wife and Mike Pace, that were relatives,
distant relatives of Chief Anderson, and so what you see in the dances and
the ceremonies here, it’s a celebration for us. We’ve always felt
when we’ve come up here very much at home. (John Strauss)
There’s a reason
this is in Anderson. Well, you know, our
people came through here and camped here and
stayed here in Anderson for a number of years. The town is named
after Chief Anderson. It’s a very special
place for us to come. We’ve felt that when
we’ve come back here. (John Strauss)
Do you think
that the country and non-Native
American folks, are they more interested
in Native America? Certainly there’s a
different attitude than when you
were a child, right? I think so. I think that they — you know, we went through,
uh, a period here lately that it was important — that, um, everybody wanted
to be an Indian, you know, and trace their
ancestries back, and it still is that way. There was a period of time
when it wasn’t too popular to be an American Indian, and I always kind of
refer to when they say, “Are you Native American?” And I said, “Well…yeah.
I’m Native American. But aren’t we all
Native Americans?” You know, if you
talk about Indians, yes. And there’s–
and more specifically, uh, we’re Delaware. And like Mike
is saying earlier, we’re Lenape, you know? And they say,
“Lenni Lenape,” that’s “Delaware-Delaware,”
really, or you know, or “people or people”. We were referred to
as the common people. But, uh, that’s kind of
when you say “Lenni Lenape” if you’re repeating
the word over again. (John Strauss)
So, you know, people want
to say the right thing. People want to say,
you know, they want to
honor groups. Do you have any thoughts about the NFL team
in Washington? (Dee Ketchum)
Well, you know, I’ve been
asked that question a lot. And, uh, I think to tell
you quite truthfully, that’s, in my opinion
that’s their right. I don’t have a
problem with that. I know that
they’re some — (John Strauss)
Is that name
offensive to you? (Dee Ketchum)
That name is not
offensive to me. And, uh, it wasn’t an offense
to a lot of the people, uh, tribes in Oklahoma to
tell you quite truthfully. And, uh, as a matter of fact,
uh, I used — I had a tee-shirt that had the
“Redskins” on it that I used to wear —
and I still do wear it around. That’s not
offensive to me. I think they have
the full right to do that. (John Strauss)
Are young people
embracing the culture the way you’d
like to see? (Dee Ketchum)
One of the problems
as I can see it is that I coached
for a number of years and I moved wherever
the coaching position was, and I never did
live in the nation, uh, there in
Bartlesville, Oklahoma. So thirty years
ago or more — forty years now, I moved back
to the nation where our
headquarters are, and really got acquainted
with our culture more so than I
was growing up and — because our
Leonard Thompson, my relative, was our
last ceremonial chief, and he taught many
things about — that are not
written in books. So it’s important
for me to pass that on. I have two —
three grandsons, for them to pass that
knowledge on to them because our language
is not a written language and so I gotta — it’s my
responsibility to pass that on. (John Strauss)
Mike Pace is former assistant
chief of the Delaware. In his cultural presentations
at pow-wows like this, he has a way of
setting the scene. [Pace speaking
Delaware language] You don’t speak Delaware.
My name is Michael Pace. I am a Delaware from
Bartlesville, Oklahoma. We’re up at the
Andersontown pow-wow. Two hundred years ago,
we landed right here. The towns here
in this area… Muncie, Strawtown,
Anderson… Delaware villages. We founded the towns,
and over time, and we were only
here 25 years before we moved again. But we settled
these towns here, and when we moved, settlers came
in and took what was already
built here. And so the towns were
already well established by that time. (John Strauss)
The Delaware have
about 10,500 members. Their headquarters
is now in Oklahoma though they’re invited
back for the pow-wow to share the tribe’s
stories and heritage. An Indian pow-wow
is a celebration, as you’ve heard. There’s also an
urgent pulse to the proceedings
sometimes, a language you may
not understand but a beat that
is hard to ignore. [singing in Delaware
with drumbeats] (John Strauss)
To help interpret
the experience, we turn to
Dr. Jim Brown, a professor emeritus
and former associate dean who lead the school
of journalism at IUPUI for 28 years. He’s written a book
on the Lenape called “Long Journey Home: Oral Histories of Contemporary
Delaware Indians.” The Delaware were known
by other tribes as “the grandfather tribe.” Um, so they were
in many cases peacemakers. You know, they were —
solved disputes. And part of it was because
the Delawares were decimated by diseases brought
by the Europeans to a fraction
of their original
size. And if you don’t have
the might by numbers, you learn to negotiate. And so they were
very good negotiators. And other tribes
think of them as the grandfather tribe. The Delawares that
are associated with this pow-wow,
Mike Pace and Dee Ketchum, and Annette Ketchum, they’re all descendants
of Anderson, and actually Rita Kohn
and I got the name for our book,
Long Journey Home, because these Delawares do come back to
Indiana regularly to Conner Prairie, to
Andersontown pow-wow, and give cultural
preservation talks. There are thousands
of fourth-graders across the state that go to
Conner Prairie every fall to learn about dress,
stories, songs, everything involved
with the culture. [singing with drumbeats] (John Strauss)
Just ahead, the spirit of art
behind the walls… prison inmates finding
temporary escape through painting. (man)
It does relieve
a lot of stress for me. You know, it takes
me away from where I’m at in myself, you know, and I think it
helps others, too. (teacher)
You want to put
enough paint on there that you cover
the canvas. So this bristle helps
beat that color right into the
canvas weave. (John Strauss)
As schools go,
you’d have to call the Pendleton
Correctional Facility “the school of
really hard knocks”… a maximum-security prison behind looming,
fortress-like walls about 30 miles
southwest of Muncie. But to Prudy Dillon
and other volunteers from the Pendleton
Artist Society in the nearby town,
this is a fine classroom. She’s of retirement age… a small woman
who looks even smaller next to some of
her large students. For the inmates,
these are lessons not always offered
behind bars… a chance to pick
up a paintbrush and put down
their troubles. (man)
Does it have
to be straight? (Prudy Dillon)
No, please don’t
make it straight. I mean, I don’t want you
to fall off the earth. I think there may
be less ego here. You get a new
person in a class, like of 12, then they’re
gonna be thinking, oh dear. That’s not what
I find here. (John Strauss)
Tell me why you
started doing this. (Prudy Dillon)
It was introduced to our
Pendleton Artist Society. And out of my mouth I heard,
“I want to be involved.” And then I thought,
what did I just do? I became involved,
but I teach oils. It’s a little harder
to get that program up and going because
it’s not an inexpensive thing. So I had to — and
I’ve been blessed with having people
donate, give… it’s been wonderful. (John Strauss)
What are your
students like here? (Prudy Dillon)
They get involved. There’s a lot
of quietness. (John Strauss)
I’m sure you have friends
who go, oh, my goodness. You’re — you know. Are you safe or
that kind of thing. Tell me about that. (Prudy Dillon)
I don’t think
about it. I feel safe. I have no qualms
about coming in here… none. I was — we went
through a class, and Lisa, the
coordinator, um, and another gentleman,
but we knew what to expect and should have known. Uh, and I feel fine. (John Strauss)
What have you learned
from your experience here that you
didn’t know already? (Prudy Dillon)
One thing I learned, um, I think we are the first
in the state of Indiana to do this,
our group. I went online and
read about other states doing art some way. Um, one case, out East,
one state found that twenty percent
didn’t come back. That — you know, that’s
the help I can give plus teaching something. (John Strauss)
How does this make you
feel to be part of this? (Prudy DIllon)
Very good. If I look at their faces,
and I see that for a few hours their mind is on
what they’re doing, then I feel good. I guess I’m trying
to give to others the joy that you can
have and the ease if you get
a good teacher. [laughing]
And I hope I am. The last time a gentleman
said, and I was pleased, he said, “You know, since
I sat down here, I’ve not thought one
thing about my troubles.” That’s why I’m here. (John Strauss)
A maximum-security prison
is just about as bleak as it sounds… [door slamming shut] Or it can be. But like the
artists they are, the volunteer teachers
who work here see the place
a little differently. Carol Jacobs helps
run the program to teach art to
the inmates. (John Strauss)
What did you think when
the folks from the prison first contacted you
about doing this? I was thrilled because
I’ve lived in Pendleton four years now and
have always known just from my background that there was so much
that you could do out here as a volunteer. And I also know
that art therapy, which was one of the
things I studied, shows that you can get
a lot of reduction in stress and high anxiety
and depression by working with
this population. (John Strauss)
This is your field,
rehabilitation, and psychology. Why is there this
beneficial effect from art? It is a release. It is something
they can do and show their talent. Even if you don’t
have talent in art, like myself, it’s still
very relaxing to do this. They are also
getting recognition for what they’re doing, We’ve had art shows
that included their work. Their work sells. People really want what
they have out here. So we’re increasing
their feelings of self-worth. This group of people
is very appreciative. They have to have had
certain parameters, uh, that make them eligible. They can’t have been
acting out recently to be in this class. We’ve had nothing but reports
of excellent response from our instructors. (John Strauss)
What do most people
not know about life at a correctional
facility like this? (Carol Jacobs)
I think the reaction I have
received from some people is they’re behind
bars all day. They’re hardened criminals. You don’t let them
do anything, and they’re there
as a punishment. I think that’s the
biggest misconception. They fail to realize that we’re really there
to help them, to rehab them, to get them to where they’re
ready to return to the outside. (John Strauss)
Among some people,
there’s a “lock-’em-up, throw-away-the-key”
mentality. (Carol Jacobs)
Yes. They’re in there.
They did something wrong. We should not be rewarding
them with classes. We shouldn’t be doing
nice things for them. They should be punished. (John Strauss)
And you disagree? I totally
disagree, right. We need to get them
to where they’re out there contributing to society and
feeling good about themselves. That’s our goal
at this point. (John Strauss)
Can you think of
a time or a moment when you said
to yourself, “Wow. This is
really working.” And tell me a little
story about that. I think when I first
realized it was working was when I hung the
first art show that included their work,
and I thought, wow. There is talent there. And then we got feedback
from the offenders themselves about how they
appreciated the classes, and I think we had one
instructor that was really kind of hesitant
to come out here and was concerned
about her safety. She came out here
and called me and said, “Sign me up for as
many classes as I can take.” (John Strauss)
Lisa Ash is the prison’s
recreation coordinator. She says that classes
and other programming are vital to help offenders
cope with the stress of being inside and prepare for
going back outside when their sentences
are complete. (Lisa Ash)
They talk about idleness
being the Devil’s workshop. So if we can provide
meaningful programs for these
offenders to do, it helps with decreasing
the aggression. It helps with
decreasing depression. It works within all
aspects of the facility. I mean, if we can
give these guys something to do that
helps them stay relaxed and takes their focus
and attention away from doing negativity, then I hope it makes
the officers’ job in the cell house
that much easier. (John Strauss)
What do you think most people
don’t realize about prisons? (Lisa Ash)
I think when we think
about prisons, we think about the —
it’s dark. It’s dingy. It’s gloomy.
It’s dangerous. It’s — you know,
you’re surrounded by all these bad guys
who’ve done horrible things. And, you know, these guys are just a microcosm
of society in general. Um, you have 80-, 90-percent
of them who are just here doing their time,
want to make a difference, want to improve themselves,
and work on getting out and doing the
right thing. Um, TV and movies, they dramatize the
really ugly side of prisons, and your days just
aren’t spent like that, Your days are spent, you know,
with guys who are looking and really doing some
soul-searching to try to improve themselves
and be better people. (John Strauss)
What kind of reaction
have you gotten from the people
here in the prison who are going into
these programs? I think the reaction from
everybody across the board has been very positive. I think they’re seeing
that it truly affects the offender’s behavior. It affects their
mindset. They’re seeing that the
guys are focusing on more positivity. Um, if they have
this outlet and able to express
themselves artistically, it’s reducing a lot of
anxiety and tensions among the offenders
and staff. (John Strauss)
Have you had
any conversations with, um, any of the population
who told you about why they liked this? (Lisa Ash)
Sure. We were in the
middle of one art class offered by the Pendleton
art society, and an offender just
made a quip, that, you know, “Wow, I didn’t even
realize for four hours that I haven’t thought
about my problems. I haven’t thought about
being in prison.” He said, “For four hours,
I have not been behind these walls.” And so I think
when you have the offenders that
can lose themself for that amount of time, you know, that’s
four hours that he spent working
on himself. (John Strauss)
There’s sort of
a “lock-’em-up- and-throw-away-
the-key” mentality. What do people need to
understand about the need for programs like this? (Lisa Ash)
A lot of offenders are
going to be getting back out. And they could be coming to
a neighborhood near you, near me, near my family. And so if I can
give them positivity, if I can give them things
to improve themselves, to work on themselves, and not just let them be
warehoused, and just, you know, that lock-’em-up,
throw-away-the-key, then when they get
back out into society, they’re going to
be productive. They’re going to,
you know, hopefully lose their old ways and
do things that benefit society and benefit us all. (John Strauss)
We’re seeing some of
the murals around here. As you look around, you see some real artistic
talent on the walls, don’t ya? (Lisa Ash)
Oh, there are
guys that, uh — one gentleman in particular
said that he had no idea he could do murals. He knew he had some
artistic ability, but he’d never
done a mural before he’d gotten
locked up. So it’s really locking — being locked up with
nothing else to do that has shown him that
he actually is an artist. He has
creative ability. And it takes away that sterilization of
the prison environment to see these hand-created
artworks that, you know, takes your mind
away from gosh, this is just a white, clean,
sterile environment, and you have these
beautiful works of art to appreciate every day. (John Strauss)
Omar Reyes was in the Pendleton
art class on this day. While many of the
inmates are beginners, just learning to draw, he’s always had
an interest in art, and has already done murals
around the institution. (Oscar Reyes)
It’s an escape. You know, um, we’re,
you know, we’re incarcerated. And it — sometimes it breaks
the monotony of the same, and, uh, we can learn, and be
able to, uh, expand ourselves. You know, to me
it’s an escape. You know, I expressed
that with other individuals. You know, I’m not here. When I’m painting on
the wall, I’m not here. When I’m doing a painting,
it’s — you know what I mean? There’s times where people
have to yell at me, “hey, hey,” you know, because I’m
deep into my paintings. And I hope that they can find
the same thing that I have. (John Strauss)
What’s it like
to be here? (Oscar Reyes)
It — you make it what
you want, you know? It can be rough if
you make it rough, or it can be easy and
do what you gotta do. You know, a lot of us — you know, we make
the best of it, you know? I have to. I accept my responsibility
for my actions, and a lot of
guys do, too. And, you know, if you
want to make it rough, you make it rough. If you want to, you
know, make it easy, it can be easy. (John Strauss)
Do you think there’s
ever cases where guys, uh, you
know, could be angry and this helps
them chill and, you know, makes them
be able to endure this better? Yes. That’s — that’s funny
that you said that. You know, they have
programs here, and auto body. And, uh, there’s an individual
I worked with, you know, and he was
getting frustrated. And I’m like, “Just take
this,” you know? I’m going to show
you what I know. That’s all I can do is show
you my experience, you know. Share with you, you
know, how I do things. And I’ve seen the
change in his face. And I remember him
coming over and saying, “Hey, thanks. I needed
that.” You know? And that’s — all we got
is each other here, you know, and I hope everybody has
the same view I do, you know. (John Strauss)
Talk about some of the
pieces that you’ve done and how you
were inspired and how you had the idea
for what you wanted to paint. (Oscar Reyes)
I just take what
I think and feel and make it mine. You know, I did
a medical sign, and it’s not your ordinary,
typical medical sign. You know, it has a
little twist to it. It has — you know, it
has my imprint on it. You know, we did
some, uh — I did — it’s, like,
a tropical scene, you know, but the vibrant
colors, you know. And It gives somebody — it breaks, uh, the same, of
repeating the same thing. You know, like, they can
stop and they can look, and they can, you know,
at that moment they’re looking at it,
you know, I’m not here. You know, I like it. You know, I like what I
get from what I’m doing. (John Strauss)
Do you get any reaction
from the other guys? (Oscar Reyes)
Yes, I do. And a lot of requests.
[laughing] Hey, can you do this?
Hey, can you do that? And that’s good. It makes me feel
good, you know? And I tell them the
same thing too, you know. They ask, “Man, I wish
I could,” and you can. You know, and that’s
what this program’s also letting others see,
you know, just get involved and try it. Recently I was involved in,
uh, the PA’s, uh, art society had a show for us, and which
led us, you know, to sell some of our paintings
and so forth. And I had come
across an idea on painting, you know, a little
girl looking out the window. And it resembled, you
know, my daughter. And the story of it
was, you know, her birthday was coming
up, and, you know, we’re incarcerated. We’re limited on what
we can do for our family. And I actually started
doing a painting for her for her birthday, and I
got selfish with it and kept it and didn’t
want to send it, and I ended up
entering it into the art show
which, um, is sold. So, uh, it was a
good experience. The story behind it
and everything was pretty nice. (John Strauss)
So you were thinking
of your daughter as you were
working on that? Yeah. Her birthday sort of
pushed it off, you know? Um, she was growing
up, you know, and you think about
all the lost time that we have with
our family, you know, and she’s eighteen,
you know. But then nineteen,
you’re just, like, they’re growing. They’re gonna do
what they’re gonna do. (John Strauss)
You know yet when you’ll
be able to get out and see her again? (Oscar Reyes)
Um, right now I’m
at half my time. So another eight
years probably. That’s initially. But with programs
and so forth I’m hoping to
go home early. (John Strauss)
The folks who,
uh, put this on say that it has some
benefits for the people here. You mentioned, you know,
the feeling of freedom that you get. They also talk about
that it reduces stress or helps in other ways. Can you tell me a
little bit about that? (Oscar Reyes)
Yeah, um, it relieves
a lot of stress, you know? You know, we have daily
living in here, you know, and the surroundings,
you know, and we’re not — it’s
not going to be perfect around here. Just like anywhere, even
out there, you know, but it does relieve a
lot of stress for me. You know, it
takes me away from where I’m at in
myself, you know? And I think it helps
others, too, you know, with discipline. You know, to sit
down and say, “Hey, I’m going
to complete this. Hey, I’m going
to do it.” You know, start
to finish… that to me is a process
that I’m loving and I think
others are too. (John Strauss)
Is this something
you can use when you get out? (Oscar Reyes)
Yes, I’m actually — I’m sitting down. I’m having a better
perspective on what to do now. You know, I made
my mistakes, and I learned
from them, and I’ve just got
to getter myself for it. (John Strauss)
Prisons are
tough places where security will
always come before beauty. Bad things can
happen in prisons. But when you watch
one of these classes, you get the feeling that,
at least for a while, the door of freedom
is open just a little bit for the guys holding
the paintbrushes. That’s this edition of
Indiana Weekend… our show about the
interesting people and places in our part of
the state… in this case, our look at
the Andersontown pow-wow and the art classes of the Pendleton
Correctional Facility. Join us each month
for more stories… the kind you just don’t find
much on the news nowadays. Please check your WIPB
program guide for details. And if you have a
story we need to see, or an idea for
the program, drop us a note at
[email protected] Thanks for
being with us, and see you next time
on Indiana Weekend on WIPB.

One thought on “Indiana Weekend – Episode 1 “Andersontown Powwow””

  • Liberalism is a disease. says:

    Liberal snowflakes have no concept of reality. The men in that prison would rape you and eat you alive. The staff would let it happen. It’s a win-win for them they can stop the program and they get more funding. Very foolish

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