By Hyung Seok LEE
CV Weekly intern
On a recent Sunday morning, Crescenta Valley Park burst alive with the sound of Native Americans as they presented their traditional dances.
Hosted by the Crescenta Valley Sierra Club, local Native American citizens performed various songs and dances outfitted in full traditional dress. The performances consisted of contemporary music and fancy and traditional dances that accompanied a presentation on the culture and history of the Native Americans.
The Sierra Club is an organization devoted to preserving the environment and savoring the nature around them. They consider themselves partners with the Native Americans because of both groups’ motivation in being the caretakers of the land.
With the purpose to educate the public on their culture, Angeles Pena of the Navajo nation, Steve Sierra and Sonia Sierra of the Tigua Pueblo and Benjamin Hale of the Navajo nation came together to introduce modern Native American culture.
“I am proud to be a Native American. I’m here to educate and tell people what we’re all about. I strive to keep the tradition strong and alive as it is passed down through the generations. We’re still here and strong,” Steve Sierra said.
The event consisted of Northern Traditional Sneak-Up Dance, the Woman’s Fancy Shawl Dance, traditional songs and several individualistic dances representing each performer’s own style. Singer and drummer Benjamin Hale gave a brief introduction to each song and dance which informed the audience on Native American history, past and current status.
After the performances, each performer discussed their daily lives. Each speech seemed to point out that Native Americans are not mysterious people who performed rituals to the gods, but are people who lived ordinary lives.
Traditional dancer and performance leader Angeles Pena talked about his life’s calling for the preservation of nature. He works as a civil servant fighting fires.
Fancy dancer Sonia Sierra talked about her life in college and her major in fine arts.
Traditional dancer Steve Sierra discussed how his passion for Native American dancing began.
This group goes throughout the state performing for various communities and for Pow Wows. They also work in still photography, motion picture, music videos, and school education representing Native American themes.
Deeper than the clothing and traditions is the belief that they are the caretakers of the earth, and it is their duty to keep it from harm. It is this that unites the Sierra Club and the Native Americans.
“Before John Muir came to California in the 1800s and founded the Sierra Club, the Native Americans worked as the caretakers of the land. We now work as partners having both the same mission and goals,” Program Chairman Wayne Fisher said.
As the event came to a close, the audience and the dancers joined gathered in a circle and danced together.
At least for that moment, the partnerships were solidified as each individual joined their hand with the person next to them and danced together in unison.