OGDEN — Nino Reyos used his music and his dance Friday to tell Ogden-Weber Tech students the ancient stories of his people.
Reyos, an American Indian with roots in the Ute and Pueblo tribes, appeared as part of the college’s Native American Heritage Month.
“I hope the students can gain a better understanding and appreciation of the culture,” said Reyos, of Salt Lake City. “But we don’t just celebrate our heritage one month a year. I hope people can use this month as a way to begin to understand and appreciate.”
Reyos played a collection of wooden flutes, performing historic and contemporary songs, which all had a pure, dreamlike quality.
Reyos has recorded several albums and was one of five flute players who performed during the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Reyos told students traditional stories that his ancestors shared with their families, like one about a freezing rattlesnake that begged to share body heat with a young boy. The weak snake promised not to bite, but recovered and broke its word, poisoning its host because rattlesnakes are dangerous by nature.
Reyos, in colorful traditional dress, put on his porcupine-quill headdress. He performed dances about nature, about birds and about everyday life.
For the last dance, he invited students to hold hands in a chain and be led in a twisting line that mimicked the movements of that rattlesnake.
“I was excited to come and join the students here today,” he said after his lunch hour performance in the student union. “Opportunities to share knowledge about cultures benefit us all.”
Mac McCullough, Ogden-Weber Tech diversity coordinator, said Reyos’ performance is one in a series of diversity events.
During the holidays, the school will host events representing a variety of faiths. Into the new year, McCullough plans events for Martin Luther King Day in January and Black History Month events in February.
“I think this kind of event makes our campus more inclusive,” McCullough said. “We are already very diverse, but we had to keep diversity strong so everyone feels represented.”
McCullough said students approached him after Friday’s performance and told him how much they enjoyed learning about cultural stories and arts from Reyos.
“They thought he was fantastic,” McCullough said. “Mr. Reyos taught them things they didn’t know, and they enjoyed the stories. I thought he was awesome, too, and things are only going to get better.
“I think programs like this are one of the most fun, entertaining times you can have at lunch on a college campus.”