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Tribes taking culture online during pandemic

Native American tribes across the country are using social media to share their culture during the coronavirus pandemic.

PHOENIX — "We have to find a way to keep people dancing," Tiny Rosales said. "We have to keep dancing no matter what."

So Tiny Rosales created "Quarantine Dance Specials 2020," a Facebook group to keep members of tribal nations dancing.

Powwows across the country have been canceled indefinitely, leaving tribal citizens with no way to showcase their dancing. To Native American tribes, dance is both an art form and a form of religious expression.

"I dance with a prayer in mind, in hopes that it will give that good positive energy back to them," dancer Ty Lodgepole said. 

Lodgepole posted a video of himself dancing on top of Tempe Butte, a video that exploded in popularity. 

"I was just thinking about how things are going, especially on the Navajo reservation," Lodgepole said. 

The Navajo Reservation has the highest concentration of coronavirus cases and deaths. Tribal officials put the entire nation on a curfew as well as a "shelter-in-place" order. Medical supplies have been difficult to come by and the Arizona national Guard had to truck supplies in.

"I know a lot of people are suffering out there," Cody Etsitty, who posted his own video to the group, said. "I just wanted to do a dance and spread my medicine out there to the people."

The group is a way for tribal members to stay connected when it feels like they're farther apart than ever. 

"You know, we're still coming together," dancer George Gonzales said, "one way or another, you know...online."

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