Our world is fraught these days with fears and anxieties concentrating on the coronavirus pandemic. In the blink of an eye we are faced with quarantines, state borders tightening, layoffs, abrupt cancellation of events, closures of schools, theaters & concerts, and any gatherings of substantial size. Social Distancing has become a buzzword separating people, throwing folks back on themselves into isolated clusters when we most need to be reaching for community. Our native ancestors taught us that in times of trouble, it is time to dance. Principal Dance Chief Clyde Hall speaks to us about the strength of our community, and how the dance itself offers us answers:
Dear Naraya Family and Friends,
From the beginning the Dance itself was a sacred being. Eastern Shoshone Wind River elder Emily Hill reminds us: “…long before our fathers and our great grandmothers; I don’t know how many hundreds of years they had it… someone may dream that something’s going to be wrong or of some kind of sickness or storm. They know it, that bad stuff is coming to us. And we better be dancing, sending it back, sending it back. That’s the way we dance it. It isn’t just a dance.”
I want to say to you first, our dance is in no danger of disappearing. In fact we have arrived at its time and true purpose to help the people. Like all beings, the Dance changes and evolves with the times. We are being called to refocus our attention at a deeper level. As my brother and Naraya elder Frank Menusan said “…it’s time for us to awaken to our hearts and spirit”.
We may have forgotten what the old people say: “when in times of trouble or adversity, that is the time to do the dance”. Despite what is happening in the world, we must continue to look with eyes of the heart to connect, taking care of ourselves and each other. We must learn to focus our prayer collectively, using the medicine of the Tree of Life, our altars, and the Sacred Fire to create a powerful and strong relationship. Together, in motion, we Focus On The Tree, moving that medicine which ripples out to heal our Mother Earth and all her beings.
Buffalo speaks to many of us at this time. Vision Keeper Lloyd Olson who holds the skull for the Northeast Dance community says: “Buffalo tells us we need his guidance in a big way so that we don’t stampede and blindly run off the cliff to our demise. It is a time when we need to pull in and sit quietly with our family, friends and community. Let the panic subside so we can be grounded and then work with all in a good, loving, caring and compassionate way. Skully can guide us and give the strength we need.”
As we all travel on this journey together, we are being called to be people of determined spirit. Our combined focused prayers are powerful; they have the strength to overcome. The Northwest Dance last year showed us that we have always had the tools, ways to dance from near or afar. It is up to us to engage with the dance every day, nourish our connections, and stay fluid. Like water we will continue to flow and change, with each dance member a drop contributing to the strength of our direction and flow.
In spirit with you all,
Clyde M. Hall