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Dancers share culture on post
Native-American performers offer education
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, acting 3rd Infantry Division commander-rear, right, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Ashmen give Billy Lacy of Voice in the Wind a plaque in appreciation of the group’s performance for National American Indian Heritage Month. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
The steady and rhythmic “heartbeat” of Mother Earth sounded loud and clear as Voice in the Wind dancers demonstrated traditional styles of Native American dance Tuesday at Fort Stewart’s Marne Garden. The presentation was made in honor of National American Indian Heritage Month.
Diminutive, soft-spoken Voice in the Wind organizer Leotis Eddy arranges these performances to continue her late husband Paul Eddy’s legacy of Native American dance and storytelling.
“We try to educate,” Eddy said. “When people see this dancer (they learn) it’s more than someone dressed up in their regalia.”
Voice in the Wind has been performing at Fort Stewart nearly every year since 1999, Eddy said. After Eddy’s husband Paul died in 2006, she and her son, Ryan Eddy, continued to bring the group to Fort Stewart.
Paul Eddy was raised on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, Leotis Eddy said. Paul Eddy’s best friend, Voice in the Wind narrator Billy Lacy, is of Oklahoma Cherokee descent. Both men served in the military. Lacy promised to help Paul’s widow “in any way I can as long as I live.”
Lacy introduced the men, women and one young boy to Fort Stewart’s soldiers before each dance. He also asked service members to “think about the person sitting next to you … the family they come from.”
The narrator said the language and traditions of Native Americans are “gifts of the Creator.”
Every move a dancer makes, each feather and beadwork pattern sewn onto a performer’s outfit has a meaning, Lacy told 3rd Infantry Division soldiers.
“It was important to Paul that people knew who we were,” Lacy said.
Voice in the Wind dancers represented the Sioux, the Comanche, the Ojibwa and the Salish-Flathead American Indian nations.
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