Awakening the Great Basin was a free cultural event at our local museum, highlighting several Native American tribes living here in the Washoe valley. This included the Washoe Indians. Shoshone, Namaga, Navajo and Lakota natives. The timing was impeccable, given that I had just written about my own Native American beliefs.
I walked through the entrance of the museum where Native Americans greeted me in their full celebration costumes, adorned with embellishments of intricate beading, including headdresses and fans made out of the honorary feathers of the Bald Eagle. I was handed a program about the event and an invitation to a big Pow Wow held in August. Immediately I got choked up and could hardly talk. I felt the need to hug everyone as if it was a reunion with long lost friends. There it was again, that connection, that knowing of what perhaps was a prior life, and my strong emotions and ties to this culture. In silence I walked from stand to stand where beautiful handmade items where showcased, including demonstrations on basket weaving. It took me a comment to get my composure back as I glanced over the program and decided to partake in the upcoming opening ceremony. I had a few minutes to spare to secure a seat and was happy about a big turnout and the many people that had shown up to join this celebration.
After a few words from the Native American spokes person who arranged the event with the local museum, a Shoshone elder approached the stage to bless us all in a prayer of her native tongue. Of course I didn’t understand a word and yet it was powerful and moving. It hit home, right into my heart and I felt blessed to have received this prayer. Afterwards the drumming started with five men sitting around one big drum, drumming in unison and singing with a full heart while inviting the dressed up and dancing tribe members onto the stage. Various dances were demonstrated, explaining the different outfits and customs. Woman were dancing to the beat of the drum in their beautiful jingle dresses that were adorned with hundreds of small bells. Another dance showcased young girls and women with their fringed shawls, mimicking and celebrating the movement of the butterfly. While yet other dances showcased the young warriors of the tribes, or the more traditional male dancers of which movement mirrored battle and fighting. I could have stayed all day, but a few other tasks were waiting. However the memory of this experience will long stand out within my mind and I truly hope to attend the big Pow Wow at the end of August.