Canku Ota logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


August 11, 2001 - Issue 42


pictograph divider


Students Embody Nature in Hoop Dance


 by Denise D. Tucker of the Argus Leader-August 3. 2001

Sioux Falls, SD - Thirty middle school students learned about the four seasons and different cultures by performing a Lakota hoop dance Thursday at the Multi-Cultural Center.

After only one week of training, the group, led by World Hoop Dance champion Dallas Chief Eagle, displayed their newly acquired skills for an audience of about 40 people.

"I thought it was spectacular," said Robin Gartzke of Sioux Falls. Her 12-year-old son Preston was one of the dancers.

"I think he did pretty well and learned a lot about lessons in life, how to share and pay attention to Mother Earth and not abuse it," she said.

Before the one-hour-long program began, 50-year-old Chief Eagle walked around the gymnasium giving last minute instructions to the children, who are a part of the center's Cultural Appreciation Respect & Education (C.A.R.E.) program.

The two-week day camp provides activities for children of all cultures. Students from Somalia, Sudan and Bosnia participated.

Nurturing the Tree of Life was the name of the hoop dance.

"We're all like trees. Different color trees.We are from different environments, and here we all are living together in Sioux Falls and South Dakota," said Chief Eagle of Allen. "It shows we can learn from different cultures, philosophies, backgrounds and values."

The program demonstrates that "with the right guidance, structure, discipline and attitude, we can accomplish a lot," he said.

The four seasons were reflected in the hoop dance. Winter represented a time out, when people evaluate themselves. Spring is when dreams are planted. Summer is when you work on your dreams. And fall completes the cycle, and your tree flowers.

Throughout the program, the group twirled their hoops, interlocked them to wave them like wings and stepped
through the hoops and danced in circles with the hoops around them.

At one point, the children formed a shelter with their eight hoops and sat underneath them covered up with blankets. It symbolized their winter. And after a few moments of personal reflection, they rose from their shelters and formed flowering trees.

Chief Eagle's 7-year-old daughter Starr also participated in the program and wore a dress covered with silver bells.

Kang Wilson, 15, of Sudan was chosen as the most disciplined performer by Chief Eagle.

"It surprised me when he picked me," Wilson said. "I thought it would be one of the others."

Chief Eagle, who is a Rosebud Sioux tribal member, had a one-week residency at the Multi-Cultural Center. The program was sponsored in part by the South Dakota Arts Council.

  Maps by Travel

Dallas Chief Eagle-Millennium Artist
View a video of Dallas Chief Eagle performing at the Kennedy Center


Dallas Chief Eagle
Dallas Chief Eagle is dedicated towards healing and nurturing the Tree/Hoop of Life, which articulates a Lakota ambassador's way of life followed by a traditional balancing act called the Hoop Dance. Dallas Chief Eagle's growth as a hoop dancer came out of his life experience, reflecting the obstacles he has overcome and the nurturing he received from his grandparents and from nature.

pictograph divider



pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


Canku Ota logo


Canku Ota logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.