NORMAN — For a long time Caddo traditions were not recorded and passed down to younger generations.
But some Caddo tribe members are determined to preserve their heritage.
Michael Edmonds, Caddo historian, said after returning to Oklahoma from college he was shocked to discover Caddo dance was rarely performed anymore.
Every time an elder died, part of the culture was lost, he said.
With his father, Randlett Edmonds, Michael began reviving vibrant traditions, and established the Metro Caddo Cultural Club in the 1990s.
Michael partnered with Jeri Redcorn, Metro Caddo Cultural Club project director, and the Caddo Nation, in hosting a festival themed “Generation to Generation, Handing Down Traditions,” to celebrate Caddo history, music, dance and art.
The festivities will include a symposium focusing on late Randlett’s life. Randlett was instrumental in preserving ancient song, dance and language of the Caddo Nation.
“We’d set up a drum and begin singing at gatherings in Binger (Caddo Nation headquarters) and people would immediately get excited about hearing the old songs,” Michael said. “My dad was a genius. He had the ability to hear a song one or two times and learn it.”
This preternatural talent helped preserve Caddo treasures in the form of over a thousand songs. Michael said he has learned from these songs humility, spirituality and how to treat other people from his culture.
These art forms are inextricably linked with Caddo history, values and traditions.
“They are part of our whole being as a people,” Michael said. “It’s a way of promoting who we are.”
Redcorn, Norman resident and artist, said her early personal experience with Native American art forms was intertribal until she learned Caddo-specific activities were occurring in Anadarko and Binger.
“When we started gathering in Oklahoma City, Michael, his father and others would always be there,” she said. “We have learned so much from the elder Caddo singing.”