Community participates in Native American cultural event

After dinner, Raymond Cadotte demonstrates the traditional men’s dance. Also performing was Julie Whitepigeon (not pictured) showing attendees the traditional women’s dance.

Ambrosia Stevens shows attendees a healing dance, which is performed while wearing a jingle dress. The jingle dress, which is full of metal cones that make clink together as the wearer dances, gets its origin from the Ojibwe.

BIG RAPIDS — Members of the Ferris State University community spent Tuesday night celebrating Native American Heritage Month, which runs through November.

Previously set closer to Thanksgiving, organizers moved the date of this year’s celebration to Tuesday to coincide with Veterans Day observations, giving the evening its theme, “Native Americans and Veterans.” Students, faculty and area residents in attendance filled the University Center ballroom to enjoy dinner, performances and the words of guest speaker, Steve Naganashe Perry, a Vietnam veteran.

“While Natives are a small population in this country now, at one time there were millions of us,” Perry said. “I try to go out and talk about the importance of raising the minority voice.”

Perry noted he was one of more than 42,000 Native Americans who fought in Vietnam, and approximately 90 percent of those enlisted were volunteers.

Attendees also learned about traditional Anishinabe — the people of several tribes in the Great Lakes region — songs, dances and attire worn by men and women for different occasions from members of the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways.

Scott Heron (right), who leads the Circle of Tribal Nations at Ferris State University, welcomes students, faculty and community members to the annual Native American Heritage Month celebration by singing a traditional song with his family. (Pioneer photos/Meghan Gunther-Haas)

“This is the university’s main Native American Heritage Month celebration,” said Scott Heron, who leads the Circle of Tribal Nations group on campus. “With such a small group of Native Americans on campus, it’s easy to be overlooked. It’s good the university keeps this up.”

Tuesday’s event was sponsored by the Circle of Tribal Nations and Office of Multicultural Student Services.

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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