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10:21 AM Mon, Dec. 10th

Hualapai dancers to perform at Olympics

A dance troupe from the Hualapai Nation is one of five American Indian groups scheduled perform during opening and closing ceremonies for the Winter Olympics next February in Salt Lake City, a Hualapai official said.

"We were selected because our dance is rarely seen," said Lonnie Wilder, coordinator for the Hualapai Bird Dancers and a cultural technician at the Department of Cultural Resources for the tribe.

"We are going up there (to Salt Lake City) Jan.

20 to greet the athletes."

The 14-member ensemble will perform a traditional bird dance during the ceremonies, he said, His mother, Willetta, and Marlene Havatone performed the dance Sunday, accompanied by "war rattler" Benny Schrum at the "Not in Our State" rally against racism, by twirling slowly in their long dresses.

Wilder said he inquired about getting involved and appeared before the tribal council to get sanctioned.

He also met with representatives of the Native American Olympics Committee.

"I had to write a two-page narrative of why I wanted it performed," he said.

The bird dancers performed before the Olympics Committee May 12 and were among 500 tribes represented, he said.

Nancy Volmer, media relations manager for the Winter Olympics, could not be reached for comment.

Havatone, a Kingman resident, said she was delighted that the group will perform during the Olympics.

"It's like representing our tribe and our community," she said.

The dancers generally perform for 15 minutes or longer, Wilder said.

And while recently assembled, they perform dances that go back several generations, he said.

The dance group consists of four men and 10 women.

They recently performed in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.