RIP: Nicholas Vrooman Folklorist

“The Whole Country was… ‘One Robe'”:
The Little Shell Tribe’s America
Co-published by the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana and Drumlummon Institute
“The Whole Country was . . . ‘One Robe,’” by historian and folklorist Nicholas Vrooman

Mike Korn  writes:

Nicholas Vrooman came to Montana in 1975, to work as a ranch hand on the
Mannix Ranch outside of Helmville. That experience made a pretty big
impression on him, working in beaverslide country side-by-side with
ranchers and cowboys in the Blackfoot Valley — an’ taking in a big ol’
gulp of Montana culture. In time, he went on to build a prodigious career
as one of our regions’ premiere and most passionate advocates of
traditional culture – our folklife – and the many peoples who make up the
patchwork quilt of the American West. For us in Montana, he served as State
Folklorist, and was involved in helping build the foundation for the Butte
Folk Festival. His knowledge and active support of the many folk cultures
of the Treasure State was second to none. Nick’s Montana was one of cowboy poets and ranchers, Butte ethnics, our many Indigenous Peoples, miners, cooks, singers, fiddlers, bootmakers, beaders, quilters, drummers,
storytellers—all of the folks who put their particular brand on and make
this The Last Best Place. In essence, Nick played cultural back-up guitar,
always putting the traditional folks up front and center stage, all the
while keeping steady background rhythm to support them in any way he could- and never missing a beat. He was both an academic with very impressive credentials as well as a popular writer and speaker. Throughout it all, he never lost the folksy touch.

Nick came to be one of the most knowledgeable and ardent advocates on
behalf of the Little Shell Band through his work in the further
documentation of their history and culture. Also called the Metis, their
history and role in the West and Montana was not as well-known but was as
strong as the other Great Plains Native peoples. Nick’s tireless research,
writing, and interviews became an important lynchpin in their struggle for
federal tribal recognition. His efforts also succeeded in creating an
awareness and appreciation of the Metis that spread far outside of western
Native communities.

A list of his accomplishments, friendships, work- the totality of his
efforts and life on behalf of Montana as well as America’s folk cultures
would go on for volumes.

Se lost Nick suddenly on June 26th.

Also See

Metis clothing

What is Cowboy poetry?

Métis fiddle is the style which the Métis of Canada and Métis in the northern United States have developed to play the violin, solo and in folk ensembles. It is marked by the percussive use of the bow and percussive accompaniment. The Meti people blend First Nations, French, English, Celtic and other ancestry. Fiddles were “introduced in this area by Scottish and French-Canadian fur traders in the early 1800s”.Wikipedia
Stylistic origins:Jigs, Reels, Strathspey (dance)
Cultural origins:Métis people (Canada), Métis people (United States)

Metis Fiddling

I think of him now, his legs dangling over the edge of the wagon box of an
old,squeaky celestial Red River cart, grinning ear to ear, enveloped and
embraced by the hop-scotch double-stop rhythms of Metis fiddlers ….and
maybe even jumpin’ down and dancing a little Red River jig himself….
amongst the stars across the Montana sky….…. One Robe. So long, Nick. It’s
been good to know ya’.

History of The Metis Jig Dance


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