‘We Have Survived as a People and We are Still Here Today’

Bridgewater College Students and Staff Experience The Piscataway Nation Dancers


Katie Baker, Editor in Chief

Bridgewater, Va. – The Piscataway Nation Dancers from the Tayac Territory-Port Tobacco, Maryland performed at Bridgewater College in celebration of the National American Indian Heritage Month. During the event on Nov. 12 in Cole Hall, the group educated a crowd of students, staff and community members on Native history, traditions and culture through dances, drumming and singing. 



Leading the singing, drummingand dancing during theperformance was Mark Tayac, pictured here, who is the twenty-ninth generation of hereditary chiefs of the Piscataway people. Before the performance began, Tayac provided a history of the Piscataway Nation — which included topics such as Native languages and tribal homelands.




The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion partnered with CEAT to sponsor the event.“It was really important to be a part of reclaiming American Indian culture in order to spread awareness of the tribe and of their costumes,” said first-year Rion Prugh, a member of CEAT who helped to host the event. 






The performers represented a variety of ages  — from Tayac to his grandchildren. Tayac mentors and teaches Native youth to embrace their culture and traditions. “Hold your head high and be proud of who you are. For we have survived as a people and we are still here today,” said Tayac.




Tayac acknowledged that modern society perpetuates a certain stereotypical image of Native people based on characters from books and movies. Throughout the performance, Tayac strove to rewrite the harmful narrative of his people by providing an authentic and educational experience. “The event personified Native Americans and their unique culture,” said first-year Jamie Rexrode. 



The event had attendees out of their seats and interacting with the performers for an evening of experiential learning. Attendees were taught the steps to traditional dances as they partnered with the performers and they learned the beats of the drumming. “It was a very exciting cultural experience that I have never been a part of before, so I was very glad to get to participate,” said senior Lamont Jones.