Paiute tribe celebrates Native American Heritage Month

CEDAR CITY — Native American youth in colorful, meticulously crafted regalia performed traditional powwow dances to the beat of drums and a serenading flute in honor of Native American Heritage Month Thursday.

Native American youth perform for Native American Heritage Month at the Paiute tribal headquarters in Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News
Native American youth perform for Native American Heritage Month at the Paiute tribal headquarters in Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News

The performance was put on by the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah in order to create awareness for the history and traditions of Native peoples.

The event took place in the gymnasium of the Paiute tribal headquarters in Cedar City and included representation from several different tribes in addition to Paiutes.

Girls and boys aged 3 to 19 from the surrounding area performed in an array of traditional dance styles while wearing ceremonial regalia. They danced to the beats of drummers who also sang.

“Our kids really love to preform and dance and we want to make sure they keep the traditions alive, too,” Paiute Tribe Cultural Resources Director Dorena Martineau said.

The performance is an annual tradition and is mostly attended by schoolchildren from regional schools.

“The songs that we sing are from our heart and for our people. The drum represents the heartbeat of our nation, the heartbeat of all the people together,” Jeremy Garcia Standing Soldier said.

A girl in traditional regalia gets ready to dance in a Native American Heritage Month performance at the Paiute tribal headquarters in Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News
A girl in traditional regalia gets ready to dance in a Native American Heritage Month performance at the Paiute tribal headquarters in Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News

Standing Soldier acted as the event’s drum coordinator. He is a member of the Coral Creek Juniors musical group and has been playing drums since his uncle introduced him to the instrument when he was 10 years old.

“I believe the message is that we as American Indians are still around here in America,” he said of the program’s theme. “We are part of America just like anybody else. And the world is changing, and we have a voice that shouldn’t be forgotten.”

Standing Soldier also works as Activities Coordinator with the Cedar Band of Paiutes after-school drug prevention program. He said he encourages the youth to pursue higher education.

The tribe’s emphasis on educating its children appears to be taken to heart — all of the performers proudly proclaimed their grade level during the program’s introduction, ranging from preschoolers to high school seniors.

November was declared National American Indian Heritage Month by George H. W. Bush in 1990. Commonly referred to as Native American Heritage Month thereafter, it offers Native peoples around the country the opportunity to share cultural traditions including dance, music and history.

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Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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