Cowboys & Indians


GROWING UP IN DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, CODY BOETTNER DIDN’T just head for the beach or the racetrack. He headed for the hoops. The 28-year-old Muscogee Creek athlete has been hoop dancing since he was a kid. His more than two decades of practicing brought him to national attention last February when he captured the top prize at the 2019 Heard Museum World Championship Hoop Dance Contest in Phoenix.

For Boettner, hoop dancing is many things: athletic competition, art, cultural ambassadorship, and a strong symbol with a meaning that’s greater than the sum of its parts: “I think it means that we are all connected in some way in this world,” he says. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. We are all part of that circle. Hoop dancing gives us understanding and it reminds us that we are not the only living things on this planet. We are part of something much grander in scale, and we should take care of this place where we live, because one day the earth may decide to shake us off and be done with the abuse.”

Boettner will be defending his title when he competes February 8 – 9 at the Heard against other top American Indian and Canadian First Nations hoop dancers. We talked with him about his championship feat and what it takes to dance with a dozenplus hoops symbolizing the never-ending circle of life.

Cowboys & Indians: What’s the place of hoop dancing in Native American culture?

Hoop dancing stemmed from the Southwest and started off as a ceremonial dance. Today it represents many things and stories that

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