Community celebrates culture through round dance

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

Totem Middle School’s gym reverberated with unity in a crescendo of joyous energy as the Marysville School District and Tulalip Indian Education came together to host a vibrant round dance for students and families. With over 200 attendees on Thursday, March 7, the event echoed with feelings of love and celebration. 

MC Randy Vendiola, the evening’s announcer, conveyed the essence of the gathering, stating, “The round dance is a celebration of our way of life, fostering strength within our community. These songs are for all the good people and all those who need healing. We are all equal.”

The round dance moves in the same direction as the earth in a clockwise circle. The drummers play in the middle, and the dancers form a circle around them, hopping one foot and sliding the other in rhythm to the drum beat. Everyone from the community was encouraged to join in the dance, and several families from different backgrounds joined the round dance for the first time.

“I enjoyed the evening,” said Ervanna LittleEagle of Warm Springs, Oregon. “It’s beautiful to see all the drummers and all the young ones being mentored by the older ones. I think it’s important to share our culture with people that aren’t Native. There is a lot of representation happening in different arenas right now, and I think that having this space for different cultures to come together and experience our customs helps us sustain our way of life.”

“This was my first-round dance,” student and tribal member Ellashawnee Gorham-Dumont said. “Having powwows like this is special to me. Seeing how other people dance and make friends is cool. I think it’s difficult to share our culture with people. You must teach them and get them to understand why we do what we do and respect our ways of doing things. They must be willing to learn.”

The sense of community and cultural celebration blended seamlessly in the rhythmic circle of the round dance. With participants from various backgrounds, the dance became a powerful expression of unity and highlighted the importance of cultural exchange and understanding.