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Totah Drums of Fall powwow and Gourd Dance honor people in recovery

Traditional event draws 250-plus people
Lions Wilderness Amphitheater in Farmington. (Courtesy photo)

Individuals in recovery were honored at Lions Wilderness Amphitheater in Farmington on Oct. 8.

Sponsored by Presbyterian Medical Services and Totah Behavioral Health Authority, the Totah Drums of Fall began at 10 a.m. with the traditional Gourd Dance.

Although origin of the Gourd Dance is disputed by many Native Americans, it serves to honor those who practice sobriety.

The Gourd Dance legend recounts the story of a young man – separated from his tribe hungry and dehydrated after many days of travel – approached a hill and heard an unusual type of singing, according to Wikipedia. There he saw a red wolf on its hind legs singing and dancing. After listening all afternoon and through the night, the wolf told the man to take the songs back to his people.

The “howl” at the end of the dance is a tribute to the red wolf, according to Wikipedia, and was once a part of the Sun Dance ceremony.

Representatives from Arizona, Utah and New Mexico participated in the afternoon powwow.

Proceedings included recognition of a delegate from the Navajo Nation. Shiprock counsel Eugenia Charles-Newton and Douglas Joe of San Juan County Partnership were honored for their service.

Farmington Police Department officers Lorette Vinzant and Angela Prince and Lt. Josh Laino were recognized for their work with the Joint Intervention Program, a treatment program under the Totah Behavioral Health Authority.

The ceremony also is an opportunity for people in recovery to thank members of the community who have supported them.