After surviving tours of duty in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan,
Navajo warrior Sergeant Lance C. Davison returned home to entrust
his family staff for safekeeping to his father, John.
passing of the staff was one of many National Dedication Day Observance
Powwow activities held at Fort Tuthill May 29certainly an
appropriate ceremony for Memorial Day. Attired in his Marine Corps
dress blues, Sgt. Davison embraced his father in the presence of
other war veterans. Navajo Code Talkers Alfred Peaches, Arthur Hubbard
Sr., Lloyd Hubbard (one of the 29 original code talkers) Ted Draper
Sr. and Dan Akee were witnesses. Rounding out the group were Thomas
Vegas and Bill Beaver, also important veterans of foreign wars honored
for their heroic contributions to the people and lands of this nation.
Sgt. Davison's dad pointed out it was a singular honor for
him and his family to stand among the veterans to be recognized
at this significant Memorial Day Pow Wow Honor Dance Day.
beat, the flags of the color guard furled in the steady and gentle
late spring breeze, the dazzle of the dancers dresses sparkled in
the afternoon sunlight, while the singers and drum groups sang and
the dancers capered. Throughout the Ponderosa pine trees just south
of Flagstaff, on that blue sky day, the announcer's voice rang
out "It is a very special day across Turtle Island today!"
are ceremonial occasions where native people dressed in tribe specific
colorful regalia and ceremonial dress, come together to dance, to
drum and sing. They honor the memory and traditions of their elders,
relatives and ancestors and, in so doing, preserve the culture,
traditions and knowledge of native lifeways for present and future
generations. It is a primal way of honoring, of staying connected
to the memory of loved ones who have passed on. It's also about
being in relationship with the earth and its life forms and staying
close to loved ones in the present. Family members, friends, citizens
of this small city assembled at the Fort Tuthill fairgrounds to
witness, give thanks and honor the warriors of past wars such as
World War II ad the present Afghanistan and Iraq wars. They gathered
to acknowledge present and ongoing duty for the future preservation
of peace and security for all the peoples of these United States.
color guard, preceded by Kiowa Sioux honor dancer Gregory La Pointe,
led the Grand Entry of the 85 dancers performing that day into the
arena. A spectacular array of colors, leather with feathers and
intricate beaded designs, all merged ensemble into a smooth and
graceful movement onto the leveled sand performing space of the
theme of this National Dedication Day Observance Day Pow Wow was
to bless, honor and thank veterans and their families for the contribution
of the efforts of their loved ones to all wars, past and present.
is a sacrifice everyone in a family makes when a warrior is sent
to fight the wars in foreign lands," John Davison said.
honored veterans, dressed in their ceremonial shawls, eagle feather
fans in one hand and sacred gourds and decorated bow guards and
maniples on the other, took their positions on the perimeter of
the circle arena to dance. Their wives wrapped in their colorful
and beautifully designed shawls and dresses, children, parents,
grandparents, loved ones stood behind them. Fringes on their shawls
gently swayed to the sound of the drums, synchronously echoing their
supple and graceful swaying movements, at one with the honored warrior
of their family.
sound of drumming is powerful. It echoes the beat of the human heart.
It is the sound of the life force. It reverberates and permeates
the air with its feeling, the trees, the skies, the ground. Everything
all around the sound seems to become one with it. It merges with
the human heart and spirit and guides the feet of the dancers into
the intricate and rhythmic patterns, which imitate the movements
of animals the birds, the buffalo and many of the living systems
still inhabiting the earth. It is as if the sound of the drum and
the sound of high pitched falsetto singing human voices engender
life to continue. There were several drumming groups who came to
drum, sing and pay their respects to the veterans being honored
that day. Situated like precious stones of a necklace on the perimeter
of the arena were The Rocky Park drum group, The Bear Shields, Golden
Bear, Star House and most especially Cozad the Kiowa drum group
who sang several very rare and old songs. They sang to give honor
and respect to the veterans, the code talkers and the community
as they held their places, stayed and continued drumming far into
the early summer night.
this National Memorial Day Dedication Observance Pow Wow, the tradition
that dances are prayers of honor, thanksgiving and beauty continued.