Young dancers celebrate their Native American heritage during Totah Festival

Hannah Grover The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Generations of Native Americans have come to the Totah Festival through the years as a way of reconnecting with their heritage.

"I think it helps them socially and (to) know where they come from," said Vylinda Charley, whose two daughters danced jingle at the Totah Festival on Saturday. "It's who they are."

The 27th annual Totah Festival — which features dancing, food and art — will continue today at the Farmington Civic Center.

While their mother did not join them dancing in the Totah Festival, she still encourages them. Charley even helps make the regalia the girls wear when they dance. She said she did the beadwork on the girls' regalia.

Lakaya Charley, 5, said the dancing provides a chance for her to have fun with her family.

Lakaya and her older sister, Lashaya, 10, dance with their father, aunts, grandmother and other relatives.

Those relatives passed on the tradition to Lakaya and Lashaya when they were very young.

Passing down the art of powwow dancing to the next generation often begins at a young age. Some children start dancing in powwows as soon as they can walk.

A short distance from where Charley was watching her daughters dance, Alex Willie was getting his son, Ayden, 2, dressed in his regalia. The Totah Festival was the first powwow Ayden danced in.

"Hopefully, he'll get into it later," Willie said.

Willie said that dancing is a family thing that he and many of his relatives participate in.

The family believes in starting the children dancing at a young age.

"It's best to do it when they're young so they can grow up knowing their traditions and their heritage," said Sapphira Willie, Ayden's mother.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.


What: Totah Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St.