Native American Heritage: Tribal youth perform traditional dances to packed house
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Visiting her grandchildren at Grand Canyon Village brings much joy to Phyllis Kachinhongva (Yoyetewa), but seeing them dance is an added blessing.
As part of the Native American Celebration held at Shrine of the Ages Nov. 6, Kachinhongva delightfully watched her grandchildren perform to a packed auditorium.
“I come to the Grand Canyon every month or so to see family and along with tonight’s performance I got to see my grandchildren dance at the Hopi House two weeks ago,” said Kachinhongva.
Native American Heritage Month At Grand Canyon
Kachinhongva lives on Second Mesa on the Hopi reservation, several hours from the Grand Canyon.
Her daughter, Monica Nanacasia (who has lived at the Grand Canyon all her life) and her husband Fred, who has lived at the Canyon for 16 years, started a dance group called, Dupkia Hoyam, meaning “Children of the Canyon.”
“The group is compiled of our children, nieces and nephews,” Nanacasia said. “As soon as the kids can walk we start them dancing. As our kids graduate and move on the little ones take over.”
The couple started the group 15 years ago. Along with the dance troupe, the children also participate in sports.
“They go to basketball practice then to our cultural practice, which is four times a week,” Nanacasia said. “My kids make me very proud of what they do. It is not easy going to go to school, have sports practice and have to do another practice for another two hours. They all have a strong, good caring heart. I try to teach them to treat others the way you want to be treated, respect others, help others when needed.”
The program Nov. 8 was hosted by Grand Canyon National Park and included an Apache/Hopi dance, several speakers and an honorary tribute to veterans.
Arizona State Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai (D-Cameron), also danced at the Hopi House and El Tovar. Peshlakai grew up in Cameron; her father was an elder and he, along with their family sold Navajo tacos out of the Camper Village in Tusayan.
“This is Indian Country, Native American County, sharing our culture, sharing what we know and sharing our traditions. That’s what the Native American way is all about,” said Peshlakai, who is a veteran of the U.S. army Persian Gulf War Desert Storm. “As women, we are warriors of the home and we watch our children. That’s what we’re all about and that’s what community is all about.”