Traditional tribal dancers from the Quapaw Nation will return to their homeland to perform at the 25th anniversary of Hot Springs’ Sister City Program with Hanamaki, Japan. Quapaw Tribal Dancers will perform from 2 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 6 at the Hot Springs Convention Center Grand Lobby. A series of various traditional dances will be performed with explanations from the dancers about each dance.
Tribal member Mike Shawnee said, “Every time we come to Arkansas, I feel our ancestors all around us. I think they would be happy that the Quapaws are making an effort to be a presence in our original home.”
“We’re very much from Arkansas,” Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma Chairman John Berrey said. “We’re emotionally attached to it.” Before their forced removal around 1834 from Arkansas to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, the Quapaws made their homes in areas as far east as the Mississippi River and west to Oklahoma and Texas. Recently, the tribal nation purchased 160 acres near Little Rock in an effort to regain a small portion of their lost homeland.
Visit Hot Springs Cultural Affairs Manager Mary Zunick said, “Each time a Hot Springs delegation visits Hanamaki, a special performance is held for Japanese traditional dancers to share their culture with their Hot Springs guests. While we have always tried to share our Arkansas culture and history with visitors from our sister city, we have never featured the dances of our native people. In fact, many Americans haven’t witnessed these traditional dances of the first Americans.”
The Hot Springs National Park Sister City Foundation partnered with the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in securing a Hot Springs Community Foundation grant which helped fund the performance. “I think this will be a memorable experience, not only for our visitors, but for Hot Springs residents, as well,” Zunick said. “The public is invited to the performance and to a reception immediately following. It is our hope that those who have been involved in the Sister City Program in the past will come enjoy the cultural opportunity with our friends from Hanamaki as well as the time of fellowship afterward.”