JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
The Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph American Indian Heritage Committee hosted the sixth annual American Indian Dance Exhibition for base attendees and local civic leaders in honor of Texas American Indian Heritage Day, Sept. 29, 2022.
“This morning, we celebrate American Indian culture and their traditions,” said Rafael Gutierrez, City of Schertz mayor. “It's very important to come together in fellowship with these individuals and their families.''
This was the first of many events scheduled to highlight, celebrate, and bring awareness to American Indian culture.
“It’s a phenomenal opportunity to come out and interact with this organization and get in touch with our roots,” said Col. Jason Sleger, 502nd Security Forces Group commander. “Culturally, America is made up of so many amazing and different people, and today gives us a chance to focus on them.”
Edward Blauvelt, JBSA-Randolph American Indian Heritage Committee chairman, kicked off the event by welcoming guests and providing a brief description of the event.
“Our goal for these events is to share our culture with the general public,” said Al Santos, master of ceremonies, drummer, and singer. “In the future, I hope we can educate people nationwide and see events like these happen in different parts of the country.”
Drummers and singers from the Otter Trail and Eagle Point groups played while dancers performed their grand entry dance.
“I love performing in these events, and it's been a part of what I’ve done my entire life,” said Tahlula Screamingeagle, dance performer. “Seeing smiles on everyone's faces and knowing that they appreciate our performance means a lot to me.”
The dance performers were from Greater Promise for American Indians. They vary in age and travel across the United States year-round for multiple American Indian powwows.
“Most people that I meet have only seen American Indians in movies,” said Brody Screamingeagle, dance performer. “Performing for me is showing the public that Native Americans are still around.”
Dances performed included the Northern Traditional dance, the Fancy Shawl dance, the Chicken Dance, the Grass dance, the Woman’s Northern and Southern Cloth, and the Jingle Dress dance, followed by a group round dance that everyone participate in.
Screamingeagle said American Indian powwows have started to become more popular over time. Before, they only happened in relatively isolated areas such as American Indian reservations.
“We believe that through our dances, songs, and art, we are able to bring communities together,'' said Robert Bass, Great Promise for American Indians executive director. “We strive to preserve Native American culture and keep it alive.”
At end of the event, the Randolph American Indian Heritage Committee paid special honor to their veteran members who have passed since their last event.
The next large American Indian Dance Exhibition will take place at the Travis County Exposition Center in Austin, Texas, Nov. 12, 2022. The event is open for everyone.