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Entertainment galore for millions attending Obama Inauguration

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – As a result of President Barack Obama’s historic inauguration, it comes as little surprise that in Washington D.C. and its surrounding areas, there was plenty to do and see. Things were no different for Indian country.

Indigenous people from across the United States, Canada and Alaska came together in Alexandria, Va. at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City just outside of Washington D.C. to attend the 11th American Indian Society’s Inaugural Ball and Pow wow held in conjunction with the presidential inauguration.

With the vast amount of entertainment opportunities to choose from, visitors as well as residents of the D.C. area could visit museums, shopping malls, and other inaugural-related events such as the opening concert, the inauguration and the inaugural parade.

On Sunday, Jan. 18, thousands joined Obama at the “We Are One” Inaugural Celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Attendees were treated to an all-star cast of musicians including Bruce Springsteen, Garth Brooks, Bon Jovi, Mary J. Blige and Bettye LaVette; and actors Denzel Washington and Laura Linney, even Martin Luther King Jr. III was in attendance.

The day after the opening concert, the AIS held its 11th Inaugural Pow wow, which was attended by more than 1,000 participants and dancers. That same evening, Seminole Heritage Events & Promotions held its Native Music Rocks event.

Those in attendance of the Native Music Rocks event enjoyed performances by Crystal Shawanda, Levi and the Plateros, Micki Free, Derek Miller, Bob Miller, Martha Redbone and Keith Secola.

“It is really great to do what I love to do,” said Shawanda, the incredibly talented Native American Music Award winning artist. “People say that this industry is crazy, but it really is great doing this. To be a source of inspiration for young native people is an incredible honor and a blessing.” Shawanda is also the first American Indian musician to be signed with a major record label, RCA Records

On Jan. 20, millions gathered to view the inauguration of President Obama. The millions of participants chose to brave freezing temperatures to him take the oath of office or traverse the length of the inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue. Attendance at both events was nearly impossible with the magnitudes of people.

The evening of the Jan. 20 was host to numerous inaugural balls including the AIS 11th Inaugural ball at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City. The 4,000-ticket event was sold out.

“People have been coming up after the sales to get in, and we have had to turn them away. There are fire laws in Arlington and we are trying to observe their laws,” said Mitchell Bush (Onondaga/Mohawk), one of the organizers of the event and Lifetime Legacy award winner.

At the AIS ball, attendees were thrilled to see performances by award-winning Native musicians like Michael Bucher, Joanne Shenandoah, Levi and the Plateros, Free and Radmilla Cody. Shenandoah opened the event by singing the national anthem.

“First of all I have to say that Joanne Shenandoah just sang the best version of the Star Spangled Banner that I have ever heard,” said Marguerite Leon, Chemehuevi, Northern Arizona, who attended the ball. “It has been an amazing trip. Yesterday we awoke to the sound of the Washington Post slamming into our hotel door. We had purple section tickets to the inauguration, and we could not see a thing. But we also had lunch across from Ford’s theater.

“It is wonderful that our new president visited the Crow People and received the name ‘Black Eagle.’ This is the biggest event in 100 years in the history of our people.”

The day after the inauguration, on the last day of AIS inaugural ball, Many in Native country participated in a brunch to close the events.

AIS Secretary Karen Mallicoat–Rodriguez, Apache, exhausted from months of preparations took a moment to talk about the contributions of the AIS. “This whole process has been very hectic yet very rewarding. Though I have been very busy and I’m tired it is a labor of love. The American Indian Society is a small organization with an all-volunteer staff and everyone did this on their own time. We do this to give a wonderful showcase and gathering for native talent. This is a place to come, celebrate and share.”

As the end of the inaugural festivities ended, many left the nation’s capitol with a feeling of astonishment. There was a plethora of things to see and do, but most unforgettable of all, was the nation’s inauguration of the first president of color.

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