By Katie Porter
Dressed in full American Indian garb, Lupe Lopez pranced from side to side and waved around an eagle-feathered prayer piece.
Her performance was just one of many spiritual routines put on as part of an event honoring Native American culture and history during the month of November.
Adrian Tanakeyowma, husband of student affairs staff member Lilia Tanakeyowma, is a descendent of the Hopi. He spoke about the pride of long lasting heritage, and introduced the powwow dances of certain tribes.
A young Navajo girl whirled around in a handmade, beaded dress adorned with feathers and frayed fabric. She hopped from foot to foot as drums beat and a baritone voice sang.
“Our instruments are important symbols of our beliefs,” Kaska tribe singer Ashkii-Chii explained.
The elk hide drums represent the heartbeat of the earth. Bean rattles stand for the strength of bones, while the sounds of flute represent the power of voice.
Lopez and the other performers were thrilled to have an opportunity to expose the students to some of their culture, which most people are uninformed about.
Santa Ana College currently offers no classes on American Indian law, culture, or religion. Sometimes residents from reservations come to urban areas such as Orange County for schooling and other college resources. They are thrust into an environment that may not understand where they come from.
Lopez was curious as to how much today’s youth really know of native life. Before the event she asked students around campus, and the majority of students knew only about the casinos controlled by many tribes.
“It’s more than just Morongo and Pechanga. There are communities behind it, with people that live and work on the reservations. You would be surprised how many people don’t know that,” Lopez said.
In fact, Native Americans are not just in folklore and history books — they are still part of modern day life. The musical talents from Red Boy Productions traveled from the native land of Arizona to showcase their tribe’s rituals.
“Over centuries we have maintained our cultures, languages, and religion. We operate on the same principles and are very much still present in society,” Adrian Tanakeyowma said.