'Keeping the culture alive’: Native dance goes digital during pandemic

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'Keeping the culture alive’: Native dance goes digital during pandemic

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By McKenzie Allen-Charmley|Luce Foundation: Southwest Stories Fellowship
PHOENIX – Singing, dancing, socializing, sharing food – the elements that make powwows an essential part of preserving Indigenous culture are the same ones that make them a coronavirus risk.

Native communities throughout the country have cancelled the traditional gatherings indefinitely as a result. But Tiny Rosales, a member of the Ojibwe tribe, has found a way to “to keep the people dancing.”

In March, Rosales created a space on Facebook allowing families, schools and businesses to host virtual Native dance competitions from afar.

Four months later, “Quarantine Dance Specials 2020” has more than 71,000 members and hundreds of video submissions from Indigenous dancers in Canada and the United States.

“Some (Native) people are having a hard time right now” as the pandemic continues to spur cancellations and limit gatherings, Rosales said.

“These specials are not a powwow … but it does feel good to be able to get dressed and put our outfits on and dance.”

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Cronkite News Arizona PBS

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Southwest Stories>Native American Communities
Southwest Stories>McKenzie Allen-Charmley

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