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Native Americans begin to take some traditions online

Some tribes are keeping traditions alive during the coronavirus epidemic by hosting social distancing dances and other events online. This is an image of a jingle dress dancer from the Facebook group “Traditional Native Healing.”

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Public health and government officials have advised (and sometimes ordered) people to stay in their homes except to access certain essential services in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Social distancing, quarantines and isolation have replaced group activities, public gatherings and events.

The new reality has forced many to work from home and to stay connected with friends, family and neighbors through virtual means.

It’s been a challenging transition, including for Native Americans who use community song and dance as part of traditions both spiritual and healing.

As Indian Country Today reported this week, Native Americans in several communities have begun to put a “digital spin” on such traditions.

“People all over Indian Country are organizing virtual powwows and other social dances via social media as a means to offer hope and spiritual support during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report said.

There are “social distance powwows” organized for the coming weekend on Facebook, for example, where dancers, singers and even vendors gather from their homes.

Jingle dress dancers from the Bad River Reservation in Wisconsin have organized a social distance dance in the tribe’s parking lot on March 28.  The dancers keep the recommended six feet of distance from each other as community members watch from their cars.

The tribe loaned dancers orange safety cones to mark off a safe dance circle.

“Organizing the dance was super organic; it offered a good way to offer healing to our community and the world,” Maday Bigboy, Bad River youth service coordinator said, in the report. Read the full story from Indian Country Today here.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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