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Native American round dance at UH West Oʻahu this weekend

Lynnae Lawrence

Oʻahu residents have a chance to experience Native American dance and art this Saturday, March 12.

University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu and the Oʻahu Native Nations Organization present “Round Dance in Paradise.”

The Native American round dance is a celebration of community. Usually held in winter, the tradition comes from North American tribes in the Great Plains.

Dr. Lynnae Lawrence, the president of ONNO, is a member of the Hopi Tribe from Arizona on her mother’s side and Nakoda Nation from Lodgepole, Mont., on her father’s side.

When she moved to Oʻahu in 2017, she wanted to share her traditions from "Turtle Island" — a name used by Indigenous North Americans to describe Canada and the U.S.

"The round dance is considered a friendship dance, so everybody is invited to participate," Lawrence said. "And it's a fairly easy step — you just step with your left foot once to the right continuously, basically in time with the beat of the drum. So it's a fairly easy dance.

"It's considered a friendship dance and knowing everything that we went through with COVID and the fact that round dances are in a circle as the name implies, the circle is sacred to Native Americans and represents all creation," Lawrence told HPR.

Round Dance in Paradise will take place at UH West Oʻahu’s outdoor learning space from 5 to 8 p.m. this Saturday, March 12. The event will have dancing and arts and crafts, and feature Native American musicians.

The event will be filmed and live-streamed on ONNO's Facebook.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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