Episode eight of the Folklife Today Podcast is ready for listening! Find it at this page on the Library’s website, or on iTunes, or with your usual podcatcher.
In this episode. John Fenn and I discuss the work of Agnes Vanderburg, a Salish elder from Montana who began an outdoor school to teach traditional Native American ways, including Salish language, food preparation, crafting with porcupine quills, making tipis, and traditional medicine. Our interviewees in this episode were:
- Stephanie Hall, who researched Vanderburg for the blog at this link
- Trelani Duncan, who did further research for the podcast (learn more about her at the link)
- Carl Fleischhauer, who knew and photographed Vanderburg in the 1970s
- Judith Gray, who gives an overview of Native American field recordings in the Library of Congress (learn more about her at the link)
- Folklorist and Oscar-winning filmmaker Marjorie Hunt, who worked with Agnes Vanderburg in the 1980s (learn more about her work at the link)
We also play and discuss some of Kay Young’s interviews from 1979 with Agnes Vanderburg and Vanderburg’s student Rachel Bowers. Vanderburg stands out as an important example of the passing of traditions between generations and between members of different communities.
Although I could embed all the audio and pictures relating to Agnes Vanderburg in this blog, it’s probably easiest to send you over to the online collection, where all of them are available to view, hear, and download. Find all the Agnes Vanderburg material here. Find the entire Montana Folklife Survey collection here.
Finally, I should mention that the incidental music in the podcast is provided by the fiddling of Mary Louise Trotchie, also recorded in Montana in 1979. She too was a Native American elder, describing herself to the fieldworkers as “part Chippewa, part French Canadian.” As she mentions in the interview, her people came from the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. My research indicates members of her family are also affiliated with the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, a group based in Montana.
In addition to fiddling, Trotchie made ribbon shirts, which are part of several styles of dance regalia worn at pow wows; she talks in the interviews about selling the shirts at a booth at local events. She was a talented clothing designer and fiddler, and we’re happy to have documentation of her in the collection. You can hear her interviews and see her photos at this link.