May 27, 2017

Dance group performance highlights celebration of Native American Culture Week

Native American dance group Ixtatutli/White Hawk performs in the Foothill Suite of the University Union on Tuesday. (Photo by Andro Palting)

Sacramento State students were treated to a series of performances by the Native American dance group Ixtatutli/White Hawk on Tuesday evening as part of Sacramento State’s annual Native American Culture Week celebration.

Ixtatutli/White Hawk was originally based in Watsonville, California but has since spread to Sacramento.

“They’re really proud to be here and we’re really grateful that they will bless us with some ceremony,” said Michael Ramirez, a member of Ensuring Native Indian Traditions (ENIT).

The performance was comprised of four different dances representing different aspects of life including war within oneself and friendship. (Story continues below)

Before the final dance, which symbolized fire moving in all directions, dancer Eliazar De La Cruz gathered all attendees in a circle. With hands clasped, De La Cruz looked down and said, “I know we don’t have that fire lit, but it’s inside us.”

De La Cruz and the rest of the group led students and faculty in a train-like movement around the room. He pounded on drums as the dancers and attendees moved seamlessly together.

At the end of the event, David Ayala, a member of Ixtatutli/White Hawk, spoke about what dance and the group means to him.

“We wanted to get back to our roots and kind of just know where we came from,” Ayala said.

Ayala talked about how the group educates kids in gangs or on the streets about their heritage.

“They’re like ‘Wow, this is kind of cool. This is something to be proud about,’ ” Ayala said. “(They can) go home and say ‘This is what I did and this is what I learned today’ instead of ‘This is what I drank and this is what I smoked.’ ”

Child development and ethnic studies major Taylor Moore said the dance was “very strong with the drums and them dancing to the beat; it was very powerful.”

Shortly after the performers left, the evening continued with a special screening of the 2011 film “Shouting Secrets.”

The fictional film follows a young man, Wes, who returned to his childhood home — which he had refused to visit for the past nine years — after his mother suffered from a stroke. Wes, as well as the rest of his family, was then forced to re-evaluate his life and the moments leading up to his return.

According to Brian Baker, a professor of ethnic studies, the film was chosen primarily because it was an independent film and not a typical Hollywood production.

The screening ended with a brief discussion among audience members about the themes of the film.

One element of the discussion revolved around accepting people even while disagreeing with their religious practices. The mother’s sister in the film is a Christian while the rest of her family followed the ways of their heritage, and even though this dissonance existed, the two women were able to maintain a strong relationship in spite of their differences.

RELATED: Our coverage of other Native American Culture Week events:

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Samantha Leonard

Samantha Leonard has been a staff writer for the State Hornet since Spring 2017. She is a sophomore studying journalism at Sacramento State and loves writing about entertainment, politics and arts. Samantha can be reached at [email protected]

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