Traditional dance highlights Native American Heritage luncheon

2nd Lt Tygina Bibbs

Cannon’s Cultural Observance Committee (COC) sponsored a Native American Heritage Month luncheon Nov. 14 at The Landing.
Uthana and Tashina Livingston of the Navajo tribe performed a traditional dance known as the Jingle Dress Dance.
Tradition states the Jingle Dress Dance began in the Northern Chippewa Indian Nations and spread quickly throughout the Northern Plains Nations. The dance was welcomed into most Plains Indian cultures and is performed by most Indian Nations to this day.
The metal cones, or “Jingles” attached to the dress represent several different things. The sounds of the jingle ward off bad spirits and welcome good spirits into the dance.
Another oral tradition states that the jingle sounds are representative of crashing waves of the ocean against the land.
The jingle sounds have also been interpreted as the sound of thunder on the American plains.
The dance is rigorous and strenuous and requires the dancer to be in excellent shape to perform because of the weight of the dress.
The dancers begin with a fast drum beat. They must then keep time with the beat as well as preserve the traditional movements with grace and fluidity.
One small step out of time can throw the whole dance off beat.
Although the first “American-Indian Day” was declared by New York in 1916, a monthlong recognition of Native Americans was not achieved until
Aug. 3, 1990 when President George H. Bush declared the first National American Indian Heritage Month through a proclamation.
National American Indian Heritage Month recognizes the intertribal cultures, notable events, cultural pathways, and achievements of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
“It’s great that you all are doing this” said Mr. Jack Pate, the keynote speaker. “It shows the importance of diversity to our nation.”
“Since the earliest days of our republic, Native Americans have played a vital role in our country’s freedom and security. From the Revolutionary War Scouts to the Code Talkers of World War II, Native Americans have served in all branches of America’s Armed Forces,” said President Bush in his proclamation.
“Today, that proud tradition continues, with Native Americans bravely defending our country in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM and helping to spread liberty around the world.
America is grateful to all our servicemen and women who serve and sacrifice in the defense of freedom,” said Mr. Pate.
The next observance is the Martin Luther King Jr., holiday in January and African American History Month in February.
The COC has begun planning for these events and meetings are 11:30 a.m. Mondays in the Airman Leadership School auditorium on the second floor.
For more information, 784-4657 or 784-2703.