Drums, dancing fill DC

 

Students, faculty and community members gathered to eat, sing and dance in honor of Native American Heritage Month on Nov. 16.

The event was put together by Raven Wells-Scott, a sophomore on the UVM Program Board and also a member of the Seneca tribe.  

While most people at the event were dressed in modern clothing, some embraced Native American tradition and wore decorative shawls and headpieces.

A woman named TK wore a multi-colored shawl, feathered headpiece and hair and face decorations. She danced to the music played by the Native American drummers.  

At the front of the room, a circle of Native American drummers played music while the people attending the event were encouraged by the members of the circle to dance.

Chief Don Stevens, a member of a Native American tribe located in the Northeast Kingdom, said that his tribe is one of the recognized Native American tribes in Vermont.

The members of the circle discussed inter-tribal dances. Stevens joined TK in doing a dance.  He said that there is no right or wrong way of doing Native American dancing, as long as it is done in a respectful manner.

When no one from the audience joined Stevens and TK on the dance floor, four people from each table were asked to stand up and come do a friendship dance.  He told everyone that came up to join hands and dance around in a circle to the beat of the drums.  

Wells-Scott, who is from New York City, said that it is hard to hold on to this part of her culture and that the drumming and rituals seen at the event are just ways that Native Americans celebrate, not a part of their everyday life.  

She said that the Seneca tribe that she is a member of is part of the greater Iroquois tribe. Wells-Scott said she enjoys the powwows in her culture, which are celebrations with drumming, dancing and traditional food and clothing.  

Dancing, eating and singing continued throughout the evening as more people continued to show up to celebrate not only their own heritage, but the heritage of the greater Native American population of the United States.