Indian Country Today
Update: In addition to the Native American Woman Warriors and Nathan Apodaca, Northern Arapahoe, and Shoshone Dancers, from the Wind River Reservation, and Native Hawaiians offered blessings for new beginnings.
Other Native dancers also appeared throughout the program which took place through the last hour of the inauguration video below.
The Native American Women Warriors and TikTok star Nathan “DoggFace” Apodaca will be among the participants in Wednesday’s virtual “Parade Across America” celebrating Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The event, set to begin at 3:15 p.m. EST, will feature “diverse, dynamic performances in communities in all 56 states and territories,” according to a release from the Biden-Harris Presidential Inaugural Committee. Other participants include comedian Jon Stewart, several Olympic athletes and musical artists the New Radicals — reuniting after more than two decades — Andra Day, Earth Wind & Fire, and many others.
The Native American Women Warriors Association raises awareness of female veterans’ contributions to the military and helps with resources related to employment, education and trauma.
For the parade, members will wear regalia emblazoned with traditional beadwork as well as military insignia. The event is virtual, and the group of seven warriors will be sounding off live during Wednesday’s events. The group prerecorded a military salute to honor the incoming Biden-Harris administration.
Mitchelene Big Man, one of the organization's founders, said she was thrilled to be invited to participate, though preparing for the parade has been stressful.
“It was a lot of work, but we managed to make it happen,” said Big Man, Crow. “My whole holiday, I was up at all hours, sewing these outfits together. And while I was making the skirts, there were times I literally stopped and cried.”
Big Man said there was a special reason why making these new dresses took so much extra time. Instead of using the jingle bells, which are usually made from Copenhagen lids, Big Man used military dog tags as the jingles.
“I needed a lot of dog tags, I had to find a distributor, a person that made dog tags because I needed about 150 to 200 of them per skirt.”
She added it’s a notable time in history for women with Kamala Harris becoming the first female vice president in U.S. history.
“I’m beyond words,” Big Man said.
The virtual celebration will also include an appearance by Apodaca, Northern Arapaho. The Idaho man gained fame last year after sharing a TikTok video of himself skateboarding to work while singing along to the Fleetwood Mac song "Dreams."
(Related: Nathan Apodaca: Everyone’s new cousin)
Indigenous Enterprise, a Phoenix-based Native American dance troupe, also was scheduled to perform as part of Wednesday's virtual events, KPNX-TV reported.
On Wednesday evening, Paulette Jordan, Coeur d’Alene, is scheduled to speak at the "Clean Energy for America" Inaugural Ball. The event is set to take place from 7 to 9 p.m. EST. Jordan served in the Idaho Legislature and in November lost her bid to become the first Native woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
Native voices highlighted during earlier inaugural events included New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna, and Jemez Pueblos.
On Saturday Haaland gave a land acknowledgment at a welcome event in Washington, D.C., paying respect to the original people of the territory, the Nacotchtank, Anacostan and Piscataway.
Additionally, Claudette White, Quechan, and the Lightening Singers from Quechan Tribe performed an honor song in celebration of the incoming administration.
The parade will be hosted by actor, director and producer Tony Goldwyn and will feature many other performers and athletes, including:
- Dr. Jason Campbell, the “TikTok Doc,” a resident in the Department of Anesthesiology in Portland, Oregon. He uses the platform to entertain to lift spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic and connect with young people.
- Cathy Cluck, an AP U.S. History teacher at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. To teach her students during virtual learning, Cathy went on a 15-day road trip to virtually teach history from the places where it happened, highlighting our theme of “Across America” by living it.
- Mama Mikki Stevens, an 80-year old performer from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, who leads a community-service oriented, musical/comedy performance organization Red Hot Mamas.
- Jason Zgonc, a 12-year old trumpeter from Atlanta, Georgia who played all summer during hospital workers’ break times to cheer them up.
- DJ Cassidy's Pass The Mic, featuring Earth Wind & Fire, Nile Rodgers, Kathy Sledge, The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, The Washington Chorus, The Triumph Baptist Church Choir, and everyday Americans
- Andra Day, featuring inspirational figure skater Kaitlyn Saunders, also known as The Skate Kid
- Olympic athletes, including Nathan Chen, Allyson Felix and Katie Ledecky
Other top-tier performers will be part of “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute, multi-network evening broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks that officially takes the place of the usual multiple inaugural balls. “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will contribute a classical recitation, joining musicians like Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi. Hosts Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will be joined by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, chef Jose Andres, labor leader Dolores Huerta and Kim Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history.
The show will be carried by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC and PBS as well as the committee’s social media channels and streaming partners. Fox News will not carry the broadcast.
Star power was also on display Tuesday evening at the virtual “Latino Inaugural 2021,” hosted by Longoria and including Broadway and screen star (and EGOT winner) Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, and Miranda again, saluting Puerto Rico with his father, Luis Miranda. The show honored members of Latino communities keeping the country running during the pandemic as front-line workers.
Also scheduled Tuesday was “We Are One,” celebrating the Black community and African Diaspora with performances by Tobe Nwigwe, DJ D-Nice, The O’Jays, Rapsody, Step Afrika, the String Queens and others. Also, the AAPI Inaugural Ball: Breaking Barriers celebrating the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities with participants including actors Kal Penn, John Cho, Kumail Nanjiani and Chloe Bennet.
In a normal year, there would be a wealth of sideline events, parties and concerts around Washington. One of the higher-profile events is the Creative Coalition’s ball, going all virtual this year.
Additional details on programming and events are available at bideninaugural.org.
Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is associate editor at Indian Country Today. He enjoys creating media, technology, computers, comics, and movies. He is a film critic and writes the #NativeNerd column. Twitter @VinceSchilling. TikTok @VinceSchilling. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story has been updated to add details on Paulette Jordan and Indigenous Enterprise.
Correction: Indian County Today corrected the spelling of Bigman to Big Man.