Powwows shine spotlight on Ute culture in the Yampa Valley

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Fifteen-year-old Kenyon Andrennoff came to Steamboat Springs from Utah on Thursday night hoping to share the grass dance and a little bit of the Ute culture with local residents.

“I hope they learn how we are with our dances and what it means for our culture,” the Uintah High School student said. “I want them to know how we dance for our family and about all the other things that we have been doing for quite a while.”

Andrennoff was part of a group of eight dancers, four drummers and a speaker that were invited by the Tread of Pioneers Museum to visit Steamboat this week. The group put on two performances and historical presentations in the Steamboat Springs High School auditorium Thursday night and then stopped by Soda Creek Elementary School on Friday morning to make two more presentations to the students.

The dancers performed dances with special meanings to the Ute people including grass, traditional, jingle dress and women’s fancy shaw dances.

Tanna Tanner, who has been a part of the Steamboat event since it started three years ago, served as master of ceremonies. She explained the dances for the audience and shared some of the Ute culture during the presentations.

“I think it is good to get out and spread the culture,” said Tanner, who lives in Vernal and goes to high school in Fort Duchesne. “The Utes are still here and so is the culture. I enjoy sharing that culture, and I think that it is very important.”

She hopes the presentations by the dancers will help Steamboat residents learn about a culture that was part of the Yampa Valley for hundreds of years.

Candice Bannister, executive director for the Tread of Pioneer Museum, said she hosts the events each year with hopes of increasing awareness and appreciation of the Ute people’s history and culture. She also thinks it is an opportunity for the young dancers to connect with their ancestral lands and the Steamboat community.

“We just want to show everyone where we come from … and that we still consider this to be our home,” Ninabah Cambridge said.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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