The Native American Experience, featuring live dancing and drumming, was presented by the Haskell Indian Nations University Powwow Dancers last Thursday night in the Memorial Union Ballroom. The event was sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the department of Ethnic and Gender Studies.
“We go to various powwows throughout the region,” said Jordan Parker Buffalo of the Iroquois tribe, who performed the Smoke Dance. “The farthest we’ve traveled since I’ve been in is Florida, so it’s expanding quite a bit. We perform somewhere about every two weeks now.”
Jason Brooks, director of Multicultural Affairs, said that he decided to bring the group to ESU when he saw a YouTube video of their performance at the Nelson Atkins Art Museum.
“There’s never been a Native American performance here as long as I’ve been a student and working here, so I decided that it would be a great event to bring to ESU,” Brooks said.
Audience members were invited to join the Haskell Dancers during the final dance.
“They say the Smoke Dance originated with the Haudenosaunee,” Buffalo said. “Although uncommon outside the eastern region, the Smoke Dance has become a favorite on the powwow trail with its fancy footwork. The elders said that the Smoke Dance originated from the War Dance, which man performed before war. Known for its slow, heavy dramatic style, the Smoke Dance was a faster version of the War Dance.”
The Haskell Powwow Dancers consists of Charley Lewis of the Paiute tribe, who opened the show with the Men’s Prairie Chicken Dance; BJ Moses of the Pawnee tribe, who performed the Men’s Southern Straight; Ryanne White and Kelly Walker, who performed the Women’s Jingle Press; Steve Byington of the Choctaw tribe, who performed the Men’s Grass Dance; David Waybenais of the Omaha tribe, who performed the Men’s Fancy Dance; and Buffalo.
Buffalo, who has been dancing at powwows since he was 12 years old, said the group performs at various areas such as universities and festivals throughout the Midwest. The group performed at the American Indian Cultural Celebration last month in Kansas City. Buffalo said they also recently performed at the Kansas City Public Library.
Lewis said the group does these types of performances year round, and they enjoyed performing at ESU.