Born this day in 1955, entertainer Buddy Big Mountain.
Impossible to determine whether he is America’s first Native American ventriloquist (I’m guessing there must have been somebody before him working the Indian Medicine Shows a century and more ago) , but he certainly has cornered the market in the modern age. He identifies primarily as a Mohawk, but is also part Comanche, Apache, Welsh and Anglo. In addition to ventriloquism, he has performed puppetry, magic, yodeling, and traditional Native American folk dancing among other skills. He’s actually a third generation performer. His father Sebastian Big Mountain performed with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and performed magic in the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey side show under the name “Severo the Great.” Buddy grew up dancing with his parents in Native American troupes at amusement parks. As a child he played a role on the show Gentle Ben and was mentored by Jay Silverheels (Tonto from The Lone Ranger). He struck out on as own as a magician’s assistant in the Bicentennial year of 1976. This quickly evolved into a passion for ventriloquism and puppetry. There are many clips of his performance on youtube, featuring lots of clips performing on variety shows (notably Nashville Now with Jeff Emery). His act naturally has a distinct western flavor, and most of his characters reflect that culture (not just Native American, but cowboy energy too). He has been touring and performing for four decades and has been based in Las Vegas for some time.
Book him here! And also Happy Native American Heritage Month! ‘
For more on the history of variety entertainment please read No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.