Performing as The Sampson Brothers, Minneapolis-based Lumhe “Micco” Sampson has been hoop dancing with his brother Samsoche, both of Seneca and Muscogee Creek, for many years. In this KQED video, an extra from an episode of ‘If Cities Could Dance,’ Lumhe Sampson demonstrates the Thunderbird hoop dance formation with 15 hoops.
Hoop dancing is thousands of years old, but are said to have entered modern popularity in the 1930s. The dances are a form of storytelling. CBC Kids explains that “the hoops represent animals, symbols and designs and are sometimes put together to make spheres.”
Some background on the legendary creature represented in his formation:
The story of Thunderbird resonates in many nations across Turtle Island, representing the entity that is known commonly as Thunderstorms.
We recognize, honor, and revere the power and presence of Thunderbeings, as they bring balance to our world with the very element that nurtures life (water), as well as wielding the potential to raze the Earth down to ashes with the power of lightning (fire); for if the forest is overwhelmed with fallen debris and is unkept, the lightning will take hold and burn the forest to the ground, resetting the land for new growth.
Some species of plants require a fire for them to germinate (pyrosperms), other species of trees are able to withstand wildfires through their resilient adaptation of thicker complex bark.
All of these lessons, and more, are entailed in the stories and teachings about the Thunderbird.
Related for older kids and adults: Meet the Minneapolis Brothers Rejuvenating Native Hoop Dance with Hip-Hop, which includes discussion of Native American images in media, as well as the work of their father, actor Will Sampson.
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