Paiute bands to celebrate past, future

By Dawn M. Aerts

Iron County Today


CEDAR CITY–When the five Paiute Bands of Southern Utah raise their flags in the 38th Annual Restoration Gathering and Pow-Wow June 8, 9 and 10, they will be also be remembering the heritage of the Paiute Tribe, their ancestors and what they have achieved despite the privations of the past. It is a celebration of dance, music and old traditions.

Patrick Charles (Shivwits Band) has been part of the celebration for many years. As coordinator of this year’s Pow-Wow, he will welcome members of the Cedar, Indian Peaks, Kanosh, Koosharem and Shivwits Bands and others who will come to a festival that draws Native Americans and visitors from across Utah.


“There will be all of the drums, dances and contests of other years,” said Charles of the weekend.  But aside from the dramatic drumbeat, it will also be a time to share and pass down traditions. “I think it has always been important to educate the community here, and we’re happy to share those values, the culture and story with others.”


Charles said that the celebration stands as a testament to the Bands’ ancestors and perseverance over time.  “Despite the challenge and hardships of the past, we are still here, our land and ancestors are here, and we continue to be part of this history.”


As in past years, the festival will include a P.I.T.U. Pageant Thursday evening. On Friday, there will be registration with Grand Entry at 7 p.m., and an annual Softball Tournament. On Saturday, the event begins with a morning Parade on Main Street and Grand Entry, and 7 p.m. on Sunday is set aside for a ‘5K Fun Run, complimentary breakfast and Grand Entry. Fireworks will be an added feature to the weekend POW-WOW.


According to Charles, all visitors can participate in the Inter-Tribal arena dances or enter a traditional ‘hand game’ contest.  Most will look for their favorite dance competitions: from the Men’s Warrior Dance, (traditional) and Men’s Northern Traditional Style, to the Men’s Chicken Dance, (age 18 plus) or the Women’s Jingle Combined (ages 13 to 25) among others.


“We focus on strengthening our community by ‘healing the past’ and building towards the future,” said Charles, “and this event is held to mark the reinstatement of the Paiute Tribe with many hours given to the preparation of costumes, music and the traditional dances.” Aside from Drum performance and the opportunity to pass down music traditions, the Band members will also be ‘gathering’ to honor the elders who carry forward their language, and the story of the hard-fought effort to attain federal recognition and reinstatement by the U.S. Government.


“Some people do not know the deeper story behind this Gathering,” said Charles of history.  “This year will mark the 1980 Congressional Bill that brought about an end to a difficult 26-year period that began in 1954.”  It was in that year that U.S. policy halted the Paiute Bands from federal recognition and excluded the Cedar Band from receiving federal assistance.


“For a time, there was no (legal) recognition for not being Indian and not being white, and the results of that termination had devastating effects,” said Charles. “It took our leaders (elders) 26 years to work through what that meant and to regain reinstatement by the government.” Today, the Paiute Tribe is organized under the provisions of the “1980 Restoration Act”; the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, and under the Tribal Constitution.


According to Charles, it is hoped that the 3-day-weekend will be a time for rekindling relationships and building on the progress made in the community.  “We now have housing, health care and educational options,” said Charles, “So we can see where we have been, and what the future can hold for us.”


(Left to right, front row) Latasha Mayo, Tanayah Tom, Patrick Charles, Tamra Borchardt-Slayton, Alexis Wall; (second row, left to right), Dorena Martineau, Tyler Goddard, David Coan and Roger Clark; (back row, left to right), Shane Parashonts, Xavier Garcia, Tyler Prisbey, Chris Iler, Marlene Whitehair.  Photo by Dawn Aerts


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