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Intertribal Pioneers

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Cal Nez is a self-employed artist and graphic designer who for over a decade has organized the annual Native American Celebration in the Park (nacip.com). This year’s event takes place on July 24 from 7 a.m. to dusk at Liberty Park.


How do local Native Americans regard Pioneer Day?


I have no right to give a statement representing Native Americans throughout Utah other than to state my personal opinion. It goes back to my philosophy as founder of Native American Celebration in the Park. I am about reaching out and building bridges, which means all cultures. For 12 years, July 24 has been a wonderful day for me as a Native American to celebrate my heritage along with everyone else. Everyone can dance in the arena.


What should people know about the July 24 Intertribal Powwow?


The powwow is not specific to any tribe. It has an arena. It has a headstaff, people who make the powwow happen. There’s the emcee who is the color commentator; there’s the host drum, the paid drum. There’s the head man and head woman'dancers who initiate the dancing. If an eagle feather falls to the ground, the spiritual leader can pick it up and bless it. The person who stands out in the middle of the arena and acts like a referee is the arena director. There’s also budget for judges and the other drums that show up.


Which dancers are not to be missed?


The biggest draw is two categories: the fancy feather dance, a man’s category'fast, colorful and high energy'and the fancy shawl for women, also very fast, with very good dancers. Some people think the competitive dancing is done for free, that it’s a pastime. But most dancers are serious; they travel throughout the United States and Canada, and it is sometimes a full-time job for them.

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