Native American groups dance at WU

Dana Sanchez

A 6-year-old girl who is about to perform rehearses a dance in the corner of the Washburn Room. The girl’s mother ties a shawl around her neck. The girl looks down at her feet as she moves, heel-to-toe, making sure she is in rhythm with the beat of the drum that her grandfather Badger Suke is playing.

Reserved signs placed on chairs in the front row are removed as visiting students from Fukuoka University, Japan take their seats.

The Native American dance group “Big Soldier Creek Singers & Dancers,” from a reservation in Kansas, performed several dances in honor of the 20 Japanese students visiting Washburn. The event, sponsored by the Multicultural Affairs office, was held March 4.

“I just thought that this was a good way to share the Native American culture with the students from Japan,” said Dona Walker, director of Multicultural Affairs.

The family-based dance group brought 10 members of their group Wednesday night, who performed for an audience of approximately 45 people. The event started off with “Grand Entry,” which was followed by eight dances. Members of the group wore colorful traditional Native American dress, and headdresses made of eagle feathers that are only permitted to be owned and worn by Native American people. The “Round Dance,” also known as a friendship dance, welcomed audience members to come to the center of the dance floor and join in the dancing. A circle was formed, followed by greetings and handshaking., known in Native American tradition as a social gathering.

The event concluded with a question-and-answer session. Audience members asked questions about customs, traditions, outfits and style of dancing.

“It is a good feeling to come back to Washburn and dance for students,” said Josette Wahwasuck, a member of “Big Soldier Creek Singers & Dancers,” and an alumni of Washburn. “It brings back a lot of school memories.

“I loved the dancing,” said Lynda Zook, senior. “It’s wonderful to have such renowned dancers from so close to home come to dance for us.”

Travis Byers, a senior who was encouraged by his history professor to attend the event, said he remembers going to powwows when he was younger, and he wants to check it out again.

“The headdresses were colorful and really added to the dancing display,” he said. “The steady beat of the drum and singing echoed loudly in Washburn Room.”

After the performance, members of “Big Soldier Creek Singers & Dancers” posed for group pictures with the students from Fukuoka University.

Wahwahsuck graduated in May 2008 with a master’s degree from Washburn and travels the U.S. with her family dancing at powwows. She is also part of American Indian Dance Theater.