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Rez dancers invited to inauguration parade in D.C.

Jan 11, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The traditional U.S. Presidential Inauguration parade will be Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C., to honor the newly sworn in president and vice president. Military regiments, marching bands, dance groups, floats and other groups are given the opportunity to represent their state and participate in the highly attended televised event down Pennslvania Avenue.

Northern Arapaho tribal liaison Gary Collins was recently contacted by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to ask if he knew of a group that would like to participate in the parade. Collins said he was told that Wyoming was not on the list.

Collins quickly contacted members of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes to put together the Wind River Dancers.

"Tribal members and Wyoming citizens are stepping up to fullfil that pride for the state," Collins said.

The biggest challenge Collins has come across is collecting the funding necessary to pay for airfare, lodging, transportation and meals for the group. He said he hopes to receive donations, despite the last-minute notification.

An account has been set up at Atlantic City Federal Credit Union to collect donations.

The group will consist of 10 to 15 people, and they hope to raise up to $35,000 in 10 days.

"We have pledges of interest (but) no money yet," he said.

The Ballet Folkloico de la Raza from Colorado Springs, Colo., the Native American Women Warriors from Billings, Mont., and the Utah Hispanic Dance Alliance from Sandy, Utah, are among the confirmed parade participants.

Collins said the inaugural committee agreed to include the Wyoming group even though the deadline for the application has passed.

Collins said he has talked to the tribes' business councils and will soon meet with the governor's staff.

Collins said he expects to get things more in order once the money is there, but he is afraid it will be more difficult as millions of attendees will be swarming the city that day. He's also considered a Wyoming banner with possible sponsorship from the Riverton Chamber of Commerce or Wyoming Tourism.

"It's an honor for this county to be represented at the inaugural parade through the Indian perspective," Collins said.

He said he hopes the youth will also be represented, and he is looking forward to a memorable cultural presence from Wyoming.

For more information, call Collins at 851-5964.

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