A display of tribal moccasins and hoop dancing from a visiting troupe will be offered as part of an ongoing celebration of Native American Heritage Month at Northern Michigan University.
The NMU Center for Native American Studies will host a free performance by the Woodland Sky Native American Dance Company at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 18 at Reynolds Recital Hall.
This will be the band’s first performance here at Northern and Baraga’s The Woodland Singers will perform alongside the dancers, according to a press release from NMU. Dancers have also performed at many elementary, middle and high schools to educate students, said Michelle Reed, founding member of the Woodland Sky Dance Company.
“The band performs in schools to teach other Native students about their heritage and to broaden others’ minds about Native American culture,” Reed said. “We also played a Green Bay Packers halftime show.”
The Woodland Sky Dance Company was established in 2013 and is comprised of Native American Ojibwe, Sioux, and Potawatomi dancers, primarily from the Midwest. The company name was chosen because the group is made up of members of forest tribes, who typically lived in forests near lakes or streams and encompassed the Midwestern portion of the United States.
The group started with Reed and two others from Lac du Flambeau, a band of the Lake Superior Chippewa tribe in northern Wisconsin.
The Woodland Sky Dance Company’s goal is to educate NMU and Marquette audiences about Native American art and the appreciation of its dance and music, said April Lindala, director of the Center of Native American Studies. .
The performance of Woodland Sky Dance is different from a powwow because powwows are ceremonial and there are interactions with the community.
“At this event, people can come and go,” Lindala said.
Lindala hopes many people will join, even if they are not Native American, to get the feel and experience of what is being brought to them. The show exudes a story and those stories reiterate everything about values and beliefs. That’s when the songs and dances get the real explanation, she said.
“It might convey something humorous or rich compared to a YouTube video,” Lindala said. “You may not need to know today, but you may need to know years from now.”
Indigenous art will be available for purchase at the event, which will be free to the public. More information about the group can be found by searching @nativeamericandancecompany on Facebook and visiting their page.