gift of an intricately beaded dress kept Cora Chandler dancing.
up on the Fort Belknap Reservation, Chandler began American Indian
dancing with she was 4.
and her family would attend powwows with her grandfather, George
Chandler Sr. The elder Chandler, a veteran of World War II, served
on powwow color guards, requiring him to attend the entire celebration
from presentation to retiring of the colors.
learned to dance because she saw how proud her grandfather was of
her. Eventually, she danced because it made her happy, and it was
a way of sharing Gros Ventre tribal traditions with her family.
makes you feel so good," she said.
addition to the emotional rewards of dancing, it also is a good
aerobic workout, said Chandler, a former high school basketball
player who still is a member of an intramural team.
much as she liked dancing, Chandler stopped after her first child
was born when the responsibilities of motherhood became too time-consuming.
encourage her to get back into dancing, a friend from Oklahoma gave
her a beautiful beaded yellow dress.
a sophomore at Montana State University-Billings, Chandler has danced
all over the country, including at the Smithsonian's Folk festival
on the Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1997.
is passing along the family dance legacy to her two children - daughter
Anika, nearly 5, and son Shylon, nearly 3.
who also takes ballet lessons, often asks her teacher if she and
the other children can powwow dance.
and her children will be among the dancers at the Montana State
University-Billings Intertribal Indian Club powwow March 26 and
event could draw 6,000 people or more to Metra Park, she said.
Christian, a tribal councilman for the Fort Peck Tribe, is the head
man dancer who will lead the social dances. Kasey Nicholson, a graduate
student at MSU in Bozeman, is the whipman, who encourages dancers
to participate in the social dances.
student Sue Lynn Brown is the head woman dancer. Althea James, a
Navaho MSU-Billings student, will be the powwow princess.
Eyes Yarlott, a student at Billings Central Catholic High School,
will be the head young lady dancer. Eight-year-old Dezmond Rides
Horse from Crow Agency, is the head young male dancer.
host drum group is Eagle Whistles, a group of about 10 singers and
drummers from around the United States. Bill Runsabove, a Northern
Cheyenne-Oglala Lakota living in Frazer, is the group's head singer.
who is a direct descendent of Chief Little Wolf and Chief Red Cloud,
will be the arena director for the powwow.
Horse, a drum group from Lame Deer, also will participate.
powwow will have several dancing contests including traditional
fancy and Crow-style dancing in men's and women's categories. Men's
grass and women's jingle dancing and children and teen categories
contests sponsored by individual families also will take place.
extended an invitation to non-Indian students and community members
to attend the powwow to learn about traditional dancing. She and
other members of the Intertribal Club welcome questions about any
of the dances and clothing dancers wear.
the event draws so many people to Billings, the city as well as
MSU-Billings, benefits, she said.
will a special powwow for the club because the event was not held
last year because of financial problems.
club of about 30 members worked hard to raise money to put on the
powwow through bake sales, Indian taco sales, and selling advertisements
in the powwow program.
MSU-Billings student association is paying for the rent on the Expo
Center for the event.
fall, Chandler and her fiance, Mike Buck Elk of Lodge Grass, and
their children will move to Montana State University in Bozeman
where they will continue their education. Chandler will study Native
American Studies and Buck Elk civil engineering.
their careers will take them in the future, Chandler knows one thing.
She will keep on dancing.
will probably still be dancing when I'm an old grandma," she
Find out more
State University-Billings Intertribal Indian Club powwow will be
March 26 and 27 at MetraParks Expo Center.
grand entry beginning each session will start at 7 p.m. on March
26 and at noon and 6 p.m. on March 27.
addition to several categories of mens and womens dancing,
children and teen dance contests and drum groups will be featured.