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Littletent performs hoop dance at Yorkton Exhibition

Said hoop dancing helped him to live a healthy life.

YORKTON – Thursday night of the Yorkton Exhibition following Elite Indian Relay Racing saw hoop dancing from Terrance Littletent, who resides in Regina but is from the Kawacatoose First Nation.

"I've been hoop dancing for 33 years now," said Littletent in an interview with Yorkton This Week.

Littletent said he started learning the dance when he was eight-years-old.

"The dance was given to me by my late uncle – his name was Kirby Littletent," said Littletent.

"When I was introduced to hoop dancing – it was a time in my life where I was trying to figure out my identity and who I was," said Littletent, adding, "it brought a spark of culture into me."

"I always say hoop dancing kind of saved my life," said Littletent, adding, "it taught me a lot about myself – I grew up in an environment of alcoholism and drugs – and also was very much bullied in school."

"It was really tough for me at home and even at school," said Littletent.

Littletent said hoop dancing gave him confidence.

"It brought the confidence and honour of who I am and where I come from," said Littletent.

"Hoop dancing allowed me to abstain from drugs and alcohol pretty much all my life," said Littletent, adding, "at 43 years old I've been alcohol and drug free – I've never smoked a cigarette in my life."

"That's the benefits of the dance that was brought to me – to my life," said Littletent.

Littletent said that the learning the dance was learning teachings.

"The five basic teachings of hoop dance are to listen, watch, learn, respect and love," said Littletent, adding, "I had to learn these teachings growing up in order to learn the hoop dance."

"Once I knew I was able to follow these teachings my uncle passed the hoop dance down to me,"
said Littletent.

"After I learned the five basic teachings, I was given the five stages of hoop dancing and that's where I learned the five stages of hoop dancing of life," said Littletent.

Littletent went on to describe the five stages of the dance which was performed to the tune of traditional Aboriginal drumming.

"We had the birth stage, we had the calling of our spirit – with our mother and father when we're born into this world – when they come together, they create that life – which is us," said Littletent, noting the fourth stage of the dance was called stacking and weaving.

"When you go through your hoops, you wiggle through your hoops, you wiggle your legs body and arms and represents you're weaving your culture to make it strong and it shows you your identity," said Littletent.

"The fifth stage was everything put together in this life – we acknowledge the eagle because it teaches us stages of life and we learn as mother nature teaches us how to live our life and how to respect each other," said Littletent.

"When I'm hooping dancing, I dance with 17 hoops," said Littletent, noting, "it takes 17 weeks for a fully matured eagle to leave its nest."

"When I have all the hoops on my body – all 17 hoops – I dance around in a circle – it represents an eagle flying around its nest," said Littletent, adding, "it goes back to its mother and father and it acknowledges mother and father for nurturing and loving that eagle," and "when that's done, it takes off and flies away and starts his or her circle of life,"

"Basically the story of the hoop dance that I do is the story about that eagle – how we learn about mother nature – teaches us to respect and to learn, to respect your parents and how they nurture and love you and when you're ready to leave that nest you always give them gratitude for that," said Littletent.

"So that's how I learned about hoop dancing – the five basic teachings – to respect, to listen to my parents, to listen to my elders, to listen to my heart – listen to the wonderful things in life," said Littletent, adding, "the creator gave us the gift of listening – listen to the wonderful things in life."

"I benefit a lot with hoop dancing because it taught me those disciplines – to respect my body mind and spirit – and to be humble," said Littletent.

Littletent said he was being recruited by the Regina City Police for training and would be passing the dance along.

"I'll be able to put the hoops away for a little bit and pass it down to my daughter who I've been teaching since she was two – she's 24," said Littletent, adding that his daughter is passing the dance down to his first grandchild who just turned three.

"Hoop dancing is just not a dance to me, it's a way of life," said Littletent.

Littletent touched on some of the history of hoop dancing.

"Hoop dancing originated from the Hopi nation...they're the ones that used the hoop dance to show the dexterity of hand and eye co-ordination for the children," said Littletent, adding,"a lot of their homes were along rock cliff dwellings, so they had ladders."

"Hoop dancing built their dexterity and hand eye coordination so they could climb up these ladders into their homes [and] escape from enemies or predators."

"The other nations used it for a rite of passage for their young warriors," said Littletent, noting, "they would go out there in the wilderness – fast for four days – they would be out there for as long as it took to have their vision."

"A vision quest is a rite of passage in some Native American cultures. It is usually only undertaken by young males entering adulthood," read an article from Wikipedia.

"When they were done their vision, they would go back to the community and instead of verbally speaking what they had seen through their vision they would take these hoops and tell that story of what they'd seen and heard," said Littletent.

Littletent spoke about his experience performing in Yorkton, noting that the crowd was really receptive to his words, humour and the dance itself.

"It was great – just to be part of a real live crowd," said Littletent, adding, "this year was so busy for me – as soon as the restrictions were [lifted] I was able to get booked solid right to the end of September."

"Just to be out there on the road and performing and sharing the good words and the dance itself – it's good to be doing that instead of being online." said Littletent, noting he continued to perform the dance to online audiences.

"It's good to be back."