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Shauni Bird '19

January 4, 2019

Shauni Bird '19 hopes by sharing her heritage she can help remove stereotypes often associated with Native Americans.
Bird, a member of the Ho-Chunk and Ojibwa tribes in northern Wisconsin, and her father often performed traditional Native American dances at elementary schools in Charlotte. She continued to educate kids through dance after moving to Wilmington three years ago.
Inquisitive students ask Bird a variety of questions such as whether she wears her regalia every day. She also addresses misconceptions about teepees and war cries.
“A lot of the things that they know about Native Americans come from Hollywood,” said Bird, a communication studies major. “I am trying to help them get over these misconceptions and to let them know I am a part of their everyday life. I am trying to break what they think is normalcy, but it’s really Hollywood. I think it’s really important to let people know that our people are still here.”
During the fall 2018 semester, Bird performed a jingle dress dance for the UNCW community and representatives from N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs during an event in observance of Native American Heritage Month. The regalia worn for the dance includes ornamentation with multiple rows of metal cones, which create a jingling sound as the dancer moves.
Bird appreciates UNCW’s efforts to recognize students from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
“I think they are taking a great step in showing appreciation and putting a spotlight on things students might not normally see or be accustomed to,” she said.
--Venita Jenkins