Wasira Dance Show educates casino patrons on Native American culture

By Tim Wohlers

Those visiting the Baraboo area have had an opportunity to learn about a facet of Native American culture, thanks to an educational show taking place at HCG-Wisconsin Dells this summer. 
“It’s called the Wasira Dance Show,” said Marketing Assistant Erica Rave. 
“It shows different dances and tells about the meaning behind each one.  It tells a little bit about the background and where it came from.”  
The show has also featured various styles of Native American dance regalia that would be seen at a typical pow wow.  There to explain each one has been the show’s master of ceremonies, Elliott Funmaker.  
“It's important to have a cultural presentation going on here,” Funmaker said. 
“A lot of times, the people who come into Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells don’t know who we are.  When we do this cultural presentation, we show a little bit of our culture to them.”
During every performance, Funmaker has described not only the dancers’ regalia but all the effort that went into making it.  Tribal members said that by talking about such things, the show helps visitors understand a little bit more about Native American culture. 
“It’s important because it’s bringing our heritage and our culture to the general public,” said female dancer Lillian White Eagle.  “It’s bringing together our dancing, and sharing everything we know about our own culture.” 
The master of ceremonies said that his group has appreciated the chance to teach others about their tribe’s customs.  He said that doing has always been in their nature. 
“We like to share our history,” Funmaker said.  “It’s part of us.” 
Although many people never saw it before this year, the show has been going on at the casino for the past three summers.  In that time, it has steadily grown in popularity. 
“Guests liked it,” Rave said.  “So we just kept doing it.” 
This season’s show began in June, and will run through the rest of August.