May 21st, 2014 Last Updated on: May 21st, 2014
When Sage Romero says “hoops”, he doesn't mean basketball. Recently, Powwows.com introduced this accomplished dancer with an overview of his work. Now, he shares his views on hoop dancing, philanthropy and heritage in depth in an interview.
Interview by Dr. Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor
Q)You're a busy man! Thanks for taking time to share with us about the excellent activities in which you're involved!
A) Thanks, I am Sage Andrew Romero, and my traditional name is Allapyun-chu-tohee (Mountain Bird Talks). I am a Hoop Dancer, and am drug and Alcohol Free. I also draw; make videos, volunteer for my community, and am the founder/Director of the AkaMya Culture Group based in California.
Q) You're doing great things! What does being Native mean to you?
A) I am of the Tovowahamatu Numu (Big Pine Paiute) and Tuah-Tahi (Taos Pueblo) Nations. Some key characteristics of my people that shapes who I am, are; humility, acceptance, balance, and perseverance. Reason being I treat others with respect knowing everyone has a purpose, and I accept my role as a native man to serve our people. Balance has taught me to keep things in my circle in a good place, and perseverance of my peoples devotion to culture keeps me moving forward when the trails seem hard or impossible. The strength of my ancestors inspires me.
Q) Dance is so central to your life? How so?
A) Dancing to me means life. It has taught me many lessons, allowed me to travel the world, to meet some of the most important people in my life, build my house I live in, gotten me through hard times, and was with me through the joyous ones. The best way I could describe to a person would be, it’s not just moving around, it is a connection to our ancestors and our future generations. To know these actions, motions, feelings, and skills were at one time done by my ancestors and will be done by my children’s, children instills feelings of Hope and Pride. It is not just physical; it is also a spiritual connection.
Q) Describe what it feels like to dance, please? Let us walk a minute in your moccasins?
A) When the regalia comes on, my body and spirit know it is time to move in that good way. It is almost as if my heart clears and lungs broaden. I feel that pride of knowing it is time to get down. When I dance, there have been times where everything around me becomes blurred, and my focus is entirely upon my hoops and the song. The crowd around me becomes a constant hum and the lights wheel about me as I share my story. It is a feeling that is truly unmatched at times, and I find myself constantly wanting to back to that place in null times.
Q)Every tribe has values and beliefs that shape us as Native People. What are some of the ideas that influence you?
A) Being from 2 different tribes I have learned from both many values. My Taos side is very strong in ancient traditions, and my Paiute side is very humble in beliefs. Seeing such differences has taught me to value all sides, big and small. This has taught me to dance hard and always be humble about your ways, and don’t get a Big head.
Q) How did you start dancing? How did you know that this was what you truly wanted to do?
I have always dance, but seeing other Hoop Dancers growing up and knowing it was a style that came from my Taos Pueblo people always excited me. I was husky growing up and was told by family “You’re to chubby, you need to be skinny to do that Hoop Dance.” Always inspired me to work hard and learn it. I just always felt a connection to this dance growing up, being half Taos Pueblo.
Q) How did you choose your dance category? What does dancing your particular style mean to you?
A) I truly feel, the hoops chose me, it feels all to natural at time. To me, dancing this style means, Legacy. Something I can pass down to loved ones and keep alive.
Q) What makes your personal dance type unique?
A) In out traditional way we take the original style and honor it by dancing in that way, but develop your own style as well. I actually developed a lot of style from dancing with my then fiancée’s Uncle that was Cook Island Maori from New Zealand. He taught me how to Dance with the Samoan Fire-Knife which I incorporated into my style. This style has been influential to a lot of young dancers I see now, and I often wonder if they are at all familiar with the story behind their actions.
Q)Regalia is as distinctive as each dancer. Tell us about yours, please?
A) My current regalia was made by my mother and I. We made the design to be simple yet functional. As Hoop Dancers, the focus should be on the hoops, and not the dancer. So that is why it is simple in design. The colors are based on my pueblo culture and I incorporated a Mayan Cross from a gift my friend gave me. It shows the 4 directions and also the connection of past, present and future which I shared earlier. This represents the legacy of this dance.
Q)What do you consider the greatest benefits of attending Powwows?
A) I hope they hear the stories behind each dance and the humbleness of our people. When we gather traditionally and share it is a way to heal and strengthen ourselves. This is what I hope they see, and learn to respect it and the deep meaning dancing has to us as human beings.
Q) What do you think makes a powwow or dance a good one? What are some of your favorite ceremonies,powwows or dances?
A) Definitely seeing old friends again and just going someplace where the culture is being kept alive. Growing up, the Bear Dances in Yosemite played a big role in my cultural learning. Lessons on patience and discipline were always strong since we were there to honor our bear relations waking up. Being crammed into the dance house was always humbling, knowing we were there to honor our bear relatives. Also the power of my Taos people dance, inspiring.
Q) What do you wish we knew about you that we don't already know?
A) I'm currently working on a fundraiser honoring the 15 year old Paiute girl named Alice Piper that sued Big Pine Public Schools and won, making it legal for Natives to attend Public School! We are working to have a life-size statue built in her honor in front of the very school she attended! You can learn more at the facebook page http://www.facebook.com/AlicePiperMemorial or contribute at http://www.bp.k12.ca.us Check it out! Manahubuu (Thank you)!!
Q) Mvto…thank you for your sharing with us! We sure do appreciate you!
A) Thank You!
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