UNION GAP, Wash. — Yakama tribal members tapped the digital world to quickly organize a traditional event.
Yakima Mall shoppers got a taste of tribal culture early Saturday evening, while the mall’s operators got a surprise when more than 100 tribal members responded to text messages to gather at the mall in Union Gap where they broke into a traditional song and dance.
“I think that’s pretty cool, utilizing technology to have a traditional function,” said Yakama tribal member HollyAnna Pinkham, who helped organize the event.
Dubbed a Flash-Mob Round Dance, the event was part of the indigenous movement Idle No More that is sweeping across Canada, where members from many tribes are opposing proposed legislation that aims to loosen laws protecting tribal lands and resources.
Several tribal members holding deerskin drums broke into a traditional song while many others formed a large circle in a dance in front of Kohl’s department store. The dance slowed foot traffic at the mall’s center.
At least two videos of the dance are posted on YouTube.
“The important thing is to support those who are facing the same challenges, not only as individuals, but as a tribe,” Pinkham said. “This is a big statement.”
On Sunday in Ontario, Canada, more than a dozen Idle No More protesters blocked 12 trains carrying roughly 2,500 passengers for three hours in support of Northern Ontario First Nations Chief Theresa Spence, who began a hunger strike in her demand to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, according to news reports.
Mall officials in Yakima were not made aware of Saturday’s event, said mall manager Allie Stewart. “That was something that was not arranged through the mall management, so we had nothing to do with it,” she said during a Monday telephone interview.
“Whenever an event is planned at the mall, it’s supposed to go through mall management and it didn’t.”
• Phil Ferolito can be reached at 509-577-7749 or email@example.com.