Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nostalgia Days festivities at Niwot, CO include ongoing cultural exchange

“Eagle Catcher,” (left) a massive carving in red willow by Eddie Running Wolf, Northern Cheyenne, at Niwot, Colo. north of Denver, is part of an ongoing cultural exchange between that community and the Northern Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming, whose ancestral home is in the area and whose noted Chief Niwot (Left Hand) gave the town its name. The carving was dedicated during Niwot’s annual Nostalgia Days.

The current piece adjoins another he carved, which he describes as his interpretation of the way Chief Niwot might have looked at the age depicted in the sculpture, and it will adjoin a third that will portray an Arapaho woman or woman and child with Niwot Ladies Club funding support.

It’s all part of an ongoing cultural exchange that began as a Warming of the Hearts Coat Drive for the Wind River Reservation and evolved into the tree sculptures, said Mike Anfinson, president of nonprofit Ni-wot Prairie Productions, which was a sponsor of the project.

William C’Hair, co-chairman of the Northern Arapaho Language and Culture Commission and co-host of the “Eagle Catcher” dedication ceremony, said of the homelands area, “It was not so much that the land belonged to us, but that we belonged to the land,” and the Arapaho still feel a connection to it.

In an address to dedication attendees Sept. 11, C’Hair said he represents the past, while Harvey Spoonhunter, Northern Arapaho tribal chairman, represents the present, and Jola WallowingBull, development coordinator for the Arapaho Educational Trust, represents the future.

Spoonhunter described the tribe as the largest organic beef producer in the U.S., noting, “We’re also going green here.” WallowingBull, the first enrolled Northern Arapaho woman to earn an engineering degree, described an $8 million Sky People Higher Education Capital Campaign to serve nearly 10,000 tribal members, even though “philanthropy is new for all of us.”

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