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Eagle Seeker Community center hosts free powwow dance class in Billings

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Posted at 2:42 PM, Aug 18, 2023

BILLINGS — Powwow dancing is a form of expression that encompasses spirituality, history and culture, but for Crow Native Moni TurnsPlenty, powwow dancing is a part of her who she is. 

“I started dancing when I was about 10, and it’s been such a huge part of my life. It has become a really big part of who I am and how I look at the world,” said TurnsPlenty at the Eagle Seeker Community Center.

She now wants to share this lost art.

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“I’ve gotten a lot of requests to do a dance class for the younger generation especially,” TurnsPlenty said.

It’s why she, along with the Native American Development Corporation, hosted the first of its kind, free powwow dance class at the Eagle Seeker Community Center last month, located in the old Shrine auditorium in Billings.

“I guess that’s one of my main goals. Especially with the younger generation is teaching them something they can focus on, have fun with, and learn a lot. ‘Cuz I learned of respect, learned a lot about our culture,” said TurnsPlenty.

Not only is it a way to keep the culture alive, but it also serves as a reminder of the plight indigenous tribes like the Crow had to endure.

“There’s a song that’s sung during each grand entry at every powwow. It’s a victory song, and they always talk about how amazing it is that we are still here as our people and we are thriving. We’re still here able to dance and do this after all those years of them trying to get rid of us,” TurnsPlenty said.

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Students here learned the basics of three different dance styles, Crow traditional, jingle, and fancy shawl, all dances you’ll see at this year’s Crow Fair. And it’s not just about the movement, but the regalia, the history, and the music too.

“There are some songs you here and it just gives you chills. And so, to be able to move to that, I think it goes way back to our ancestors and what they have been able to pass down to us,” said TurnsPlenty.

Songs and dances passed down to TurnsPlenty, and one she’s now passing onto others through these classes, hoping to educate the younger generation on the Crow way of life.

“I’m excited. I want to have more classes in the future. I’m hoping to maybe travel to Crow or maybe local areas to teach anybody who’s willing to learn,” TurnsPlenty said.