Intertribal Gathering Celebrates Native American Culture
By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune
Members of dozens of tribes from across the continent gathered in Eureka on Saturday, Oct. 10, to honor elders, to celebrate Native American cultures, and to share music and traditional dances.
The Northern California Indian Development Council (NCIDC) has sponsored the Intertribal Gathering for 31 years.
Konni Readen, Executive Assistant for the NCIDC, said, “The goal is to honor our elders, regardless of ethnicity, and to share the native song and dance with the community.”
Elders were served a dinner of salmon baked on sticks and turkey. Musicians performed and dancers gave demonstrations throughout the day.
Yurok Tribal Police Sergeant Thorin McCovey said, “We’ve grown up here and seen the local dances hundreds of times, and it’s really nice to see the ones from out of the area. The Aztec dance is really cool looking.”
Anna Rodriguez, originally from Baja California in Mexico and a third year student at Humboldt State, said, “I enjoy learning about the culture, which is very close to my culture.”
Sage Romero, from the Paiute and Taos Pueblo tribes in New Mexico, demonstrated the Hoop Dance, and then taught some of the dance to four members of the audience.
Romero said there was a feeling that every time someone went through a hoop that they were healing someone.
“I had to earn the right to do this dance,” Romero said. “With that, we earn the right to share this with everyone.”
Dancers from the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuks demonstrated the Shake Head dance, while singers chanted in their language, Miwu’a.
Carlos Geisdorff said, “All our songs and dances and teachings were meant to be in our native tongue. It gives us knowledge of self.”
Miwu’a was close to becoming forgotten, because young people weren’t learning the language and the fluent speakers were dying off. Then, the tribe began working together to preserve their language.
“We’re bringing it back,” Carlos Geisdorff said. “We came up with an orthography [writing style] and we have phrase books and children’s books. The kids go Monday through Friday to language classes.”
Amanda Geisdorff said, “We travel all over California doing the dances. I’m Maidu and my husband is Me-Wuk, and our kids do both styles of dance.”
Over 200 volunteers from many organizations, including the Yurok Tribal Police, Humboldt State University, Hoopa Tribal Civilian Community Corps (TCCC), and Hoopa AmeriCorps helped make the gathering a success.
Misty Lawton, a student at HSU, said, “We serve a bunch of elders as well as people in the community. The best thing is getting all of the Native Americans together and seeing the traditional dances and prayers.”