Paiutes dance celebrating restoration; Cedar City powwow; STGnews Videocast, Photo Gallery

ST. GEORGE — The 35th Annual Paiute Restoration Gathering concluded its three-day powwow Saturday at the Paiute Tribal Center in Cedar City, complete with colorful pageantry, dancing, beating of drums and celebration.

Powwows are dear to the Native Americans, providing opportunity to dance, sing, renew old friendships and make new ones, the event brochure said.

In a letter to friends and visitors, Tribal Chairwoman Corrina Bow said:

This gathering has a significant meaning to the Southern Paiute Bands (Kanosh, Shivwits, Cedar, Koosharem, Indian Peaks). This is a celebration of federal recognition that took our past leadership many years to achieve.

Dance arena, Paiute Restoration Gathering, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, June 13, 2015 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News
Dance arena, Paiute Restoration Gathering, Paiute Tribal Center, Cedar City, Utah, June 13, 2015 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

Read more about the history of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah here.

The powwow takes place in a circle that serves as a dance arena, also known as an arbor. It is blessed by an elder before the event and is considered sacred ground throughout the celebration. The circle is symbolic to Native American cultures, meaning wholeness, with no beginning and no end.

Dancers of all ages, dressed in ceremonial regalia rounded the sacred circle. Among them Fancy Dancers with what many account as the most energetic of the dances; Grass Dancers in regalia made of yarn and ribbons likely depicting the swaying of prairie grass; and the Jingle Dance for healing. Traditional dances included both Men’s and Women’s, the former telling stories of the Paiute history through dance.

Everyone, Native American or not, regardless of dress, was invited to join in the Inter-Tribal dance and individual dance styles were welcomed.

The drumbeat is the heartbeat of Mother Earth, the powwow program booklet said.

Accompanying the dancers were Northern and Southern Drum Groups who sang and beat their drums for the dancers. WolfSpring Drum Group, named after a spring on the Kaibab Paiute Reservation, served as the Host Drum.

Samuel Tom Holiday

One of those gathered to visit with friends and guests was 91-year-old Samuel Tom Holiday, one of the last living Navajo Code Talkers who served in World War II.

From 1943-1945 Holiday served in combat with the Fourth Marine Division. Military historians note that during the first 48 hours of the invasions at Iwo Jima more than 800 coded messages, in the Navajo language that the Japanese failed to crack, were sent and received by Navajo radio units with 100 percent accuracy.

Read more: Navajo code talker Samuel Holiday, 90, gets surprise honors; Marine Corps League Dixie; STGnews Videocast – 2014

St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic and photographer Dave Amodt contributed to this report.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

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