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Wind River Dancers to perform at Ft. Laramie, EWC

October 10, 2018

GOSHEN COUNTY, Wyo. — The Wind River Dancers, out of the Wind River Reservation in western Wyoming, will be performing in two shows in Goshen County on Oct. 13.

Darrell LoneBear, a member of the Northern Arapaho, master of ceremonies, and long-time member of the Wind River Dancers, said the purpose of the group is to share the Native American’s cultural heritage through song and dance. They were a longtime feature at the Cheyenne Frontier Days’ Indian Village until 2005, and have performed throughout Wyoming through the Arts Council since 2006. The dancers performed at the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and at President Obama’s 2013 inauguration. LoneBear expects to have between 10-15 dancers during the Goshen County performances, along with a couple drummers and singers.

The dancers are of all ages: some have been part of the group for 25 years, while others are four- to five-year-old children.

“We’re good at what we do,” he said. “We’re very colorful. When we’re not dancing or getting ready for dance shows, some of my dancers go out on the pow wow trail and enter dance competitions all across the western United States.”

As master of ceremonies, LoneBear introduces the group at the start of each performance.

“I will introduce our drummers and singers as the keepers of our songs,” he said. “Without our songs and our drums, we don’t have a cultural heritage to share; we recognize the beat of the drum as the heartbeat of mother Earth.”

Throughout the performance, he explains the meaning of the songs, some which feature lyrics, some which feature vocables. Many of the songs are memorials, to honor veterans.

He also introduces the dance styles, which will include grass, fancy feather, fancy shawl, jingle dress and explain the regalia the dancers wear.

“I will tell the audience how it originated, the meaning of the dance itself, what to watch and what to look for,” he said.

The show will feature a hoop dancer, which LoneBear said is a special treat.

“The hoop dancer will go out there with anywhere between 25 to 30 hoops,” he said. “Along with the beating of the drum and the song, they will create certain symbols and designs out of the hoops. They will create eagles, they will create turtles, they will create different birds, they will create heaven and earth. It’s really enjoyable to watch and see what the hoop dancer will do next and what they will create.”

The performance ends with a friendship dance, where the audience is invited to join the dancers.

The Wind River Dancers will perform at the Fort Laramie Historical Site at 3 p.m. and at the Fine Arts Auditorium at Eastern Wyoming College at 7 p.m. Both performances are free to the public.

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