One Robe celebrates Métis music and culture

The Myrna Loy showcases Métis fiddling, dance, art and film Sept. 29-30

On Stage

The Myrna Loy in Helena celebrates the Métis and Indigenous cultures of Montana with “One Robe,” Wednesday, Sept. 29, and Thursday, Sept. 30.

Métis fiddler Ryan Keplin, known for his left-handed fiddling, will perform as part of The Myrna Loy's 'One Robe' Métis celebration Thursday, Sept 30.
Métis fiddler Ryan Keplin, known for his left-handed fiddling, will perform as part of The Myrna Loy’s ‘One Robe’ Métis celebration Thursday, Sept 30.

Thursday’s evening celebration includes music by Métis fiddler Ryan Keplin, known for his left-handed fiddling; a performance by the famed Ivan Flett Memorial Dancers of Winnipeg, who combine traditional Métis jigging and hip-hop dancing; a special guest appearance by acclaimed pianist Phil Aaberg; and a tribute to historian Nicholas Vrooman, who was a champion of the Métis /Little Shell tribe.

Other offerings during the two-day celebration include a talk by poet Chris La Tray about the long-fought and successful battle for Little Shell tribal recognition; an art exhibit, featuring works by Blackfeet painter and sculptor Louis Still Smoking; and “Sisters Rising,” a documentary about six Indigenous women fighting violence against Native women, will be screened.

“This whole Native celebration acknowledges all the ways we are ‘one robe,’ while recognizing our individual cultures and histories,” says Myrna Loy Executive Director Krys Holmes. The event is named after Vrooman’s book, The Whole Country was … One Robe, and is wrapped around a message of acceptance that’s central to Métis culture.

The celebration kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 29, with an artist reception for Still Smoking’s exhibit, “Perseverance,” from 5-7 p.m. The “Sisters Rising” film screening ($10) follows at 7 p.m., both at The Myrna Loy, 15 N. Ewing St.

On Thursday, Métis writer and philosopher Chris La Tray gives a talk, “The Day That Finally Came,” at noon, at the Montana Historical Society. Then, at 4:30, Western scholar Brenden Rensink presents a lecture titled “Native but Foreign: Indigenous Immigrants and Refugees in the North American Borderlands.” Both talks are free.

Thursday evening’s celebration kicks off with a reception, featuring traditional meatball soup and homemade Bannack bread, at 6 p.m. at The Myrna Loy, followed by an evening of Métis music, dance, and storytelling at 7:30 (tickets $25).

“One Robe” is both a celebration of Métis culture and a tribute to Vrooman, who worked for years to ensure Little Shell tribal recognition. He died in 2019.

Find full schedule, with link to tickets, at the Myrna’s website or call 406-443-0287.