Wind River Dancers are keeping their culture alive

Robert Galbreath photo Maya Spoonhunter, a member of the Wind River Dancers, performs the hoop dance in a performance at American Legion Park on Saturday, part of the Rendezvous festivities.

Demonstrating the many

different dance styles of the American Indian

culture, the Wind River Dancers performed at

American Legion Park.

Darrell LoneBear has led the dancers for

25 years and has been a part of the Wyoming

Arts Council for 13 years. LoneBear started

out wanting to be in the police force and later

the FBI, until he saw how low his tribes had

become. That motivated him to go into social

work to help his people.

He started with the Wind River Dancers in

1993 at Cheyenne Frontier Days. When the

man who ran the dancers changed the name,

LoneBear decided to continue the Wind River

Dancers himself. The group has performed in

almost every city in the state of Wyoming –

more than 90 shows total.

The group’s members share their culture

and heritage through dance, LoneBear said.

There is a great passion within the dancers and

musicians that perform for us each year. Lone-

Bear said they do not have routines, only the

dance styles that have been passed down from

generation to generation. It starts young. The

families carry down the traditions of the tribe,

including the dances.

The dancers also create their own costumes

for performances.

“As Native Americans, we take from the animals

all we can,” LoneBear said, “and when

we do, we thank them.”

The dancers cherish the outfits they create

and build them themselves, Lonebear said.

Another integral part of the dances is the

music. The Wind River Dancers have friends

they go to for music each powwow. “They are

the keepers of our songs,” LoneBear said. “We

wouldn’t go anywhere else and they wouldn’t

either.”

The music is an important part of not only

the dancing, but of the culture. LoneBear said if

you are down or depressed, listen to their drums

for a few minutes and you’ll be okay again.

“The way we see it the beat of the drum is

the heartbeat of mother earth,” Lonebear said.

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