Diné dancers drumming up support for ‘Treaty 101’ tour

Courtesy photo
The Dineh Tah Navajo Dancers are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of 1868 with a visit to historic sites involving the treaty, including the Sherman House Museum and the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.

WINDOW ROCK

Around these parts, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know this year marks the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of 1868.

But in the rest of the country, Shawn Price has found, people are “pretty oblivious” to the event, even though it arguably marked a watershed in American Indian policy.

With his Dineh Tah Navajo Dancers, Price has a tool to both educate and entertain mainstream Americans. For the treaty’s anniversary year, the emphasis is going to be on the education part.

“This is a special year,” said Price. “It’s a very humbling year. We thought a lot about what we should do; what our ancestors would want us to do.”

And so, as you are reading this, the Dineh Tah Navajo Dancers’ van is speeding toward Greeneville, Tennessee, home of the President Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.

Johnson, as anyone who stayed awake in their Navajo history class knows, was president of the United States when the treaty was signed. Price figured it was a good place for the dancers to start off their treaty tour.

Tomorrow, April 6, Price will give a “Treaty 101” lecture and the dancers will entertain the hopefully overflowing crowd at the historic site with authentic, traditional Navajo dances — which, according to Price, “are the only kind we do.”

Then it will be back on the road to the William Tecumseh Sherman Museum in Lancaster, Ohio. Sherman, as most Navajos know, signed the treaty on behalf of the U.S. government … but even some of his fans off the reservation may not know that.

“He’s really famous for the burning of Atlanta,” Price said. “I don’t think a lot of Americans know he signed our treaty.”


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Categories: Culture

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at cyurth@navajotimes.com.