WIND RIVER DANCERS

On Jan. 21, eight dancers and three drummers from the Wind River Indian Reservation represented Wyoming in President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Parade. They were the state’s only representatives.

On the left is Dean Littleshield, 20. He has danced since he could walk and went to D.C. with his dad, Fergie, and brother, Patrick. He wears a Superman symbol around his neck, hand-beaded by his mom. 

Why Superman? “I have like six more at the house. I go all over and people say, just like what you did, ‘Ah, I love that.’ It just makes me feel good because I have something to represent my mom. She did all the bead work on my outfit. It feels so good to see how much she cares, how much she loves all of us.”

On the right is Christie Wildcat, 14. She wears 365 jingles on her dress. When she dances the Medicine Dance, the jingles “sing” a healing song for every day of the year. The jingles are cut from Skoll cans, folded into cones and sewn on one by one. 

For whom do you dance? ”I dance for the people who can’t dance, like the elders, the disabled, for my family, for the non-natives who would like to dance. I don’t dance for myself or the contest money. I dance for my culture to keep it alive. It’s like a passion. When I’m out there I always think of my family. I dance like I’m one with the drum.”

(Ed. note: This is an excerpt from a longer feature on the Wind River Dancers in the Casper Star-Tribune. The Wind River Dancers are still trying to raise $10,000 to pay for their trip to D.C. For more on making a donation and to see a portrait gallery of other dancers, click here.)

— Interview by Kristy Gray, Star-Tribune Features Editor; Portraits by Dan Cepeda, Star-Tribune Photographer

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The features staff of the Casper Star-Tribune — editor Kristy Gray, outdoors reporter Christine Peterson and reporter Benjamin Storrow — are State Guides to Wyoming. The Star-Tribune is Wyoming’s only statewide newspaper and you can follow the adventures of the features folks at tribfeatures.tumblr.com and find the Star-Tribune at www.trib.com.