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Land recognition ceremony connects a Hawaiian dance company to Shoshone lands

Shelley Morningsong (Northern Cheyenne) and Fabian Fontenelle (Zuni/Omaha) meet with members of Tau Dance Theater.
Anna Johnson
Shelley Morningsong (Northern Cheyenne) and Fabian Fontenelle (Zuni/Omaha) meet with members of Tau Dance Theater.

Whenever they visit a new land to share their art and their culture, members of Tau Dance Theater recognize the history and people of that land.

In preparation for their performance on Friday night at the Ellen Eccles Theater in Logan, company members met with members of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.

MaileGinger Ripp is a dancer with the company. She said these ceremonies offer a chance to feel connected to the land.

“There's always an awareness with Hawaiians to give recognition for any new space that they're entering. And just asking for permission always to be there, and also always asking for protection to be there,” Ripp said.

Darren Parry, former chairman and current councilman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, welcomed Tau Dance Teater with a traditional smudging ceremony.

“It was just my honor and privilege to be able to welcome them in in a traditional Shoshone way to Shoshone country. We call this Siviogoi, which means Willow Valley. This has always been home to our people. It's just an honor to welcome another indigenous culture to this beautiful place that we live in today,” Parry said.

Sharing parts of their culture and learning about the cultures of other indigenous people is important to Ripp.

“Today, especially just singing Hawaii, Aloha, I cannot sing that song ever without choking up and crying because it returns us to our roots," Ripp said.

This land recognition ceremony acts as a foundation upon which Tau Dance Theater will build connections between Native American and Native Hawaiian cultures. Their performance Friday, titled Indigenuity, focuses on bringing these two cultures together.

Anna grew up begging her mom to play music instead of public radio over the car stereo on the way to school. Now, she loves radio and the power of storytelling through sound. While she is happy to report on anything from dance concerts to laughter practice, her main focus at UPR is political reporting. She is studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and wants to work in political communication after she graduates. In her free time, she spends time with her rescue dog Quigley and enjoys rock climbing.