POWELL, Wyoming — In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, the Native Ways student organization at Northwest College will host its 20th Annual Buffalo Feast at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, in the Yellowstone Building Conference Center.
This year’s entertainment is provided by the Native Strut Hoop Dancers from the Fort Washakie Schools located on the Wind River Reservation. Encompassing more than two million acres of land, Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation is home to members of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.
Ann Abeyta, curriculum coordinator for Fort Washakie Schools and leader of the Native Strut Hoop Dancers, says the group got its start about six years ago as an afterschool program for elementary school students.
Three dancers will be featured at this year’s event and include Amya Whelan, a Wyoming Indian Middle School student and Carmen Tyler, a Wyoming Indian High School student. Taylee Dresser, a student at Lander High School, will also perform in the group.
All three dancers have performed in final rounds of competition at the annual Heard Museum World Championship Hoop Dance Contest in Phoenix, Arizona, where they were judged for their precision, rhythm, showmanship, creativeness and speed.
According to Abeyta, the hoop is considered to be a sacred symbol to many Native American people, and it is believed that the dancers gain spiritual strength as they move through the hoops.
The three dancers will illustrate the relationship between people and nature by depicting various plants, animals and birds. The dance requires great coordination and stamina and was traditionally performed by warriors preparing for battle. It is also used in spiritual healing ceremonies and for entertainment purposes.
The dance program follows the traditional feast featuring buffalo brisket and foods indigenous to the Americas and has been a part of NWC’s culture for the past 20 years.
Tickets cost $19 for adults, $12 for children 12 and under, and $9 for NWC students. Advanced reservations are required by Monday, Nov. 7.
For reservations or event information, contact Amy McKinney at 307-754-6008 or Amy.McKinney@nwc.edu.