June 12, 2014

MHA Tourism kicks off summer season

By Jerry W. Kram

The sun was glistening off Lake Sakakawea and bird song filled the air as a good sized crowd gathered to celebrate the beginning of summer at the Earth Lodge Village about six miles west of New Town.

The marked the start of MHA Tourism’s summer season and seasonal opening of the Earth Lodge Village, said Darian Morsette, director of MHA Tourism.

Along with an afternoon of horse racing, the highlight of the afternoon was a performance by the Fort Sill Apache Fire Dancers from Oklahoma. The Fort Sill Apache are descended from Apache who were taken prisoner by the United States more than 150 years and never allowed to rejoin their original tribes. Eventually, they formed their own tribal identity.

"What happened us to us as native people is a powerful story," Morsette said. "But now we want to tell our own stories to the people out there. There are books and histories, but we have our own oral history and traditions that we hold close and want to get out more."

The fire dance was dramatic, with five of the dancers dressed all in black and red along with another with ghostly white body paint. All of the dancers are masked so the viewers cannot tell who they are. Four female dancers circled around the fire as the men danced inside their circle.

They were followed by dancers from the local area.

"We want focus on family events like cultural exchanges," Morsette said. "We want to bring other cultures up here and show us their dance and culture. That way we can go down there and show them ours."


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