OGDEN -- About the time Europeans were sending the Crusaders to Jerusalem, Navajo tribes were breaking with their Apache brothers in the American Southwest to trek north to Utah and thereabouts.
"It was political," said Don Benally, a Navajo and officer in the American Indian Council at Weber State University.
For a modern analogy in explaining the 11th-century origins of his native tribe, Benally said Apaches were becoming more like Republicans in their outlook, versus the Navajo philosophy, which was much more like that of a Democrat.
Such history is little known to mainstream Caucasian culture, said Benally and Jeff Simons, Native American adviser to the WSU Multicultural Student Center on campus.
Hence the need for the "American Indian Tribute to Education and Heritage" on campus, said the two, among the organizers of the three-day gathering that concluded Saturday.
Events included the 40th annual Competition Pow Wow that drew full-dress Native American dancers from around Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. At least 30 tribes were represented Saturday.
The dancers' "Grand Entry" to the Shepherd Union Building Ballroom was a highlight, about 50 dancers gyrating in full regalia to a thunderous drumbeat.
It was repeated at 6 p.m., complete with the six men seated to keep cadence with the giant drum.
"The clothing worn by dancers is known as regalia," reads a handout on etiquette passed out to the audience of 200-plus gathered in the ballroom Saturday afternoon.
"Sometimes it will referred to as an outfit, but it is NOT a costume; these things come from decades of tradition and must be respected.
"Never touch a dancer's regalia, feathers, drum or other items without express permission to do so."
Simons detailed some of his heritage with the Sioux tribe. His grandfather was an Assiniboine Sioux from Montana, and his grandmother a Santee Sioux from South Dakota.
All of the 27 tribes of the Sioux Nation in the U.S. derive from the ancient Aztecs of Central America, moving north when that region became crowded, he said.
The Sioux are among 556 tribes of Native Americans in the U.S. sharing more than 300 languages, Simons said.
Events Thursday included the seventh annual American Indian Symposium. Keynote speaker was Sheldon Spotted Elk, a staff advocate at Utah Legal Services, who discussed the straying of American Indian youths from their heritage and traditions.
Cody Blackbird, an award-winning American Indian flutist and traditional singer, performed Saturday. Also presented were drum-making demonstrations, hoop dancers, dozens of vendors, an arts and crafts exhibition and the presentation of six unique dance styles.