On a crisp Saturday afternoon last month, nearly 100 people gathered at the Salvation Army in Middle River for a Christmas party. Children lined up in the gym to take part in a time-honored tradition: Sitting on Santa’s lap in front of a Christmas tree.
But a different scene with pre-Western roots unfolded in an opposite corner. There, an elderly man wearing a feathered headdress sat banging on a drum and singing. A small circle composed of several generations and tribes of American Indians formed around him for a casually ceremonious activity known as social dancing. Side by side, the adults danced and laughed while children scurried between them.