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|Friday, 23 January, 2015|
Round dancers hold hands as they dance to the drums.
By ALEXANDRIA ALVAREZ
FORT HALL — On Friday evening, January 16, the Annual Fort Hall Round Dance began at Timbee Hall, with a feast that was held nightly for families and visitors that traveled near and far to be a part of the Round Dance.
Earl Arkinson and Manny Lieras served as master of ceremonies for Friday and Saturday evenings and the two would often share their traditional knowledge of the event.
Unlike a social round dance, the dances that were held at Timbee Hall were ceremonial. The round dance origins can be traced back to Canada, and like powwow and other social dances in Indian Country, the round dance has traveled and been adopted into many tribal communities.
Sonny Dixey had brought the Annual Round Dance to Fort Hall since 1996, but took some time off it for a few years back in 2001. Since then, Dixey along with his family have been hosting the Round Dance, and was pleased with this year’s turn out.
“I brought this Round Dance to the Tribe to bring blessings, heal people, and create a good feeling for the tribe. I know that there are people who are out there suffering, who are sick, or not feeling well, and this dance has healing powers. There is a lot of good vibes, and good energy that makes people feel good,” said Dixey.
Manny Lieras explained that with this ceremony, singers’ call upon the spirits to join them, and to dance, and even though there are gaps between the dancers, they are actually filled with the ancestors who have come to join in the celebration. And because there are spirits dancing, pregnant women and babies that cannot walk on their own are advised to not enter the dance arena.
Earl Arkinson who has been helping to emcee for the last several years shared some history with visitors explaining that the Dixey and the Top Sky families are from a very prominent family and this ceremony was brought to Fort Hall by Willis Dixey and the late Shirley Top Sky who believed a great deal in the healing power of these ceremonies, and that he is proud to have been asked to speak on behalf of the family for many years.
Dancers and singers came from as far as Whitefish, Saskatchewan, Canada, Utah, Nevada, and Montana, while many local singers such as Tyson Shay, Chasen Coby, and drum groups Ghost Canyon, Sage Point Singers, and Spring Creek who sang during the Round Dance. Friends and families danced late into the night both nights, Saturday’s session went on into the night until about 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
“I would like to thank the Fort Hall Business Council for all of their help and support, to the Recreation Department, and to Mike Sakelaris who never hesitates to extend his help. I’d also like to thank the Tribal Enterprises, Gaming, and for the countless donations. I’d also like to thank all of the people who donated their time or who helped make food for the feast, and all of the singers, dancers, and community members who came out. I’d also like to thank Nathan Small, it’s really good that the leader of the Tribe is out, and comes to participate because he makes it whole; we need to see our leaders out here at these events, and Nathan has been coming for the last several years, and we are thankful for his participation and support,” said Dixey.
Timbee Hall was filled with laughter, dancing, and smiles, and served as a good opportunity for people to visit with one another, and make new friends while enjoying the round dance.
Sonny Dixey concluded that his family is already starting to think for next year, and because he used to sing with Blackstone drum group, many of the friends he’s made around Indian Country has expressed an interest in coming out next year, and Dixey hopes to see the Round Dance grow and get better with each year.