September 08, 2022
DS Elizabeth McVicker, Pastor Norman Mark, Rebecca Mark
The 4th Annual Gourd Dance was on Saturday, August 27th, 2022. The Gourd Dance was hosted by Native Grace Intertribal Fellowship at First UMC in Cortez, Colorado. We give thanks to the vision and leadership of Pastor Norman Mark. Many clergy, laity, and community members came together to make this gathering possible. Native Grace encourages Native Americans to embrace both who Creator made them (Native/Indigenous people) AND who Jesus calls them to be (Christians). This approach runs contrary to much Christian teaching on the reservations. It is the embodiment of the Fellowship's name--Grace offered in all places and for all people.
As far as we know, this is the first Traditional Native American Dance held on a Christian Church's property in the Four Corners area.
The Gourd Dance is traditionally a Warrior's Dance with men being the primary dancers. It is a time for spiritual healing and to honor military veterans. Many of the gourd dancers wear insignia reflecting the branch of the military in which they served. Flags representing each of the military branches are flown at the event, as well as the American flag, the flag of the Navajo Nation, and the POW-MIA flag.
Native Americans serve in our country's military at a rate higher than any other ethnic group, by percentage.
A sacred fire burning cedar wood is kept throughout the event with a designated Spiritual Leader (Medicine Man) offering prayers for healing for all who ask for them.
The gathering was very moving and was an example of what holding space for one another for healing can be like, that being present in support of one another can come in the form of sharing a meal together, offering gifts, dancing a sacred dance together, and honoring loved ones.
The Dance ended with a feast of mutton stew and fry bread provided by Native Grace Fellowship for all who attend.