Veterans honored in Albuquerque through special Gourd Dance

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The brave men and women who serve our country are being honored in a special ceremony in Albuquerque, rooted in Native American tradition. The Veterans’ Gourd Dance is making a move at the New Mexico VA Health Care System.

“The Gourd Dance is spiritual healing,” said Tilford C. Brown, American Indian Program Manager at the New Mexico VA.

Beyond the healing, songs and moving to the beat, the Gourd Dance brings together a special group. At the VA in Albuquerque, that means honoring and celebrating those who served our country.

“It has a huge story to it. The story is about bringing warriors together, so this is a warrior’s dance,” said Leonard Anthony, Master of Ceremonies at this year’s Gourd Dance. “We’re honoring all the veterans that never received their honors when they returned back from the wars.”

The Gourd Dance brings together families from all over as singers gather in the middle and the “warriors” dance in a circle, all to the heartbeat of the drum. While many of those surrounding the circle are veterans and their families, others come to honor those still fighting for our freedom.

“You got the Grandfather Drum there in the middle, the heartbeat of Mother Earth. We get all our power from that drum,” said Brown. “We also have families that come here because their loved ones are oversees in harm’s way, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, anywhere in the Seven Seas.”

As the ceremony continues, the dancers grow from one to more than a dozen as others join in. All who take part in the traditional ceremony are rooted in one thing: the powerful connection between warriors and nature.

“Father Sky, the winds, the air, everything,” said Brown. “The animals, the plants, we’re all related. So when we come here, that’s what we really emphasize.”

The New Mexico VA says veterans and their families traveled from a number of southwest states to take part in this ceremony. Many of the singers in the drum circle even traveled overnight from Oklahoma.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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