Reibach meets two Tribal members while touring N. Ireland
When multiple Native American Music Award-winning flutist Jan Michael Looking Wolf Reibach traveled more than 4,700 miles to Northern Ireland in late July to perform concerts and tour the ancestral homelands of his great-grandfather, the last thing he expected to run into was another Grand Ronde Tribal member.
On Friday, July 27, after a full day or radio interviews in Derry, Northern Ireland, Reibach and his entourage - wife, Rhonda; son, Shane; godson and guitarist, Daniel; and percussionist Nathan Myers - headed to the Waterside Theatre, site of his scheduled concert that evening.
While signing autographs after the concert, a 7-year-old boy named Liam O Gallachoir approached Reibach and said that he was a Grand Ronde Tribal member.
Then the boy's mother, Maya Frost, introduced herself as a Tribal member as well.
"There was an immediate connection and they told me how much they miss the Tribe and that Liam has a yearning to grow closer to his Native culture," Reibach, who works for the Tribe as Lands Department manager, recalls about the meeting.
Reibach presented Liam with a small cedar flute and taught him how to play.
"Liam learned so fast that within 10 minutes he was playing the basic scale of the flute," he says. Impressed with the quick-learning musical student, Reibach also gifted Liam a drum.
"He was very excited," he says. "It was a touching moment with people shedding some tears, including his mother. She said, 'Thank you so much. This means more to us then you'll ever know.' "
But the trans-Atlantic Native American cultural exchange of members of the same Tribe was not over.
Liam told Reibach that he wanted an Indian name. After Reibach talked with Frost, they went backstage and held a small naming ceremony, which Reibach has performed for some members of the Tribe.
"We talked about the traditions and ceremony of receiving a name and crouching down on one knee, I said, 'Part of it is an exchange. Usually one must give something, a kind of offering like tobacco, sage or cedar.'
"Liam looked down and said, 'I have this,' and gave me a gummy worm."
Reibach told Liam the sticky gift would work fine and that he would bring it back to Grand Ronde, where he would bury it.
Then after a prayer together, Reibach christened Liam with the Native name "Little Wolf."
After the ceremony, Liam told Reibach how beautiful his boots were. The boots, hand-beaded with wolves and medicine wheels by a close friend and Native Elder, have been worn at events across the United States by Reibach when he performs.
"Meeting you here is proof that your Tribe is always with you," Reibach said to Liam as everyone was departing. He then gave the young boy his boots. "Keep playing that flute. You have some big shoes to fill Little Wolf."
Frost, the daughter of Philomena Hoehnke, moved to Ireland in 1999 to study Irish traditional music.
"I had not planned to stay originally," she said via an e-mail. "Liam was born in Ireland and my mother helps keep us up on what is happening with the Tribe."
She told Reibach that learning and celebrating their Native American culture in Northern Ireland is understandably difficult.
"It was an honor to meet Jan Michael Looking Wolf and his family on the night he performed in Derry," she said via e-mail. "When Liam mentioned his plans to go through the naming ceremony when he is of age, Jan Michael made a beautiful gesture by helping Liam find his animal spirit and his Indian name. We thank him so much for his many gifts and have no doubt that Liam Little Wolf will one day fill the beaded boots!"
In addition to his Derry concert, Reibach also performed at radio stations, cultural centers and churches in Northern Ireland, as well as a special performance for Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
"We performed a 30-minute concert and interview on BBC radio that was broadcast across Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom," Reibach says. "We also played on Drive 105.5 FM. Also, several newspapers did articles on our tour there."
McGuinness presented Reibach with an autographed poem that he wrote.
"I am privileged to welcome Jan Michael, a winner of four prestigious Native American Music Awards, to Derry, and how fitting it is that he should bring us a flavour of his unique and endearing culture at a time when we look forward to embracing all cultures during our 2013 celebrations," McGuinness said in a press release.
Reibach presented McGuinness with a Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Pendleton blanket.
Martina Anderson, Northern Ireland's representative to the European Parliament, presented Reibach with a Coat of Arms and welcome as well.
McGuinness and Anderson invited Reibach to return in 2013 and perform at a large festival in August that will celebrate "The City of Culture" event.
Before the July 27 concert at the Waterside, Derry Deputy Mayor Mary Hamilton also presented Reibach with a Coat of Arms to the city. "This is considered one of the highest honors of recognition and welcome," he said.
Promoter Keith Wright said Reibach's visit had a huge effect on Northern Ireland. "After several appearances on national radio, live performances and meetings with government leaders, his music has become very popular in Northern Ireland," he said.
"This was an amazing experience for my family and me," Reibach says. "Of course, we were blown away by the reception of the music and honors received, and how beautiful the country is. But what touched my heart the most was meeting fellow Tribal members at our concert. We immediately connected like family and it reminded me that being Grand Ronde is simply the greatest honor of all."