Sundance: A Dog’s Journey Home

In the beginning some called her Sunrise, others called her Magic and and in the end the one that stuck was Sundance.

It was a wonderful July sunrise, several of us gathered to welcome the sun, which is our long standing tradition at the Institute. On this morning as we faced east , a few dogs appeared in the distance. Only one ventured closer and closer – Sundance. She was very cautious at first but finally joined us. She seems quite at home immediately and followed us down to the Student Building. She selected a comfortable place behind the building in the orchid to sit and hang out. It was just a matter of time before she joined the “workshop” atmosphere and followed us from event to event. She soon a favorite member of the workshops for the rest of the season. She reveled in all the attention, and when we went off to the Kiva she found a shady spot nearby to settle in for a nap. She quickly learned the routine, such as when to be on stand-by at the kitchen back door to help us deal with all the leftovers.

She came and went, her territory being the surrounding hills, but nearly always joined us for sunrise. We’d watch her chase rabbits far below in the valley, then nimbly glide up the steep hill to greet everyone and follow us back for breakfast, more naps, more attention. She also joined in for the drumming dances and other events at the Hall of the Thunderbirds.

By October she was part of the everyday fabric of the Institute. Finally she made her move,. It was when David Nighteagle arrived a day or two before the Men’s Conclave. He was eager to see the new Hall. As we walked over to admire it, Sundance was all over him, nuzzling him like a long-lost friend. We texted photos of the two of them to David’s wife Sherry, and she asked if David could bring Sundance back to join their pack. Somehow, their small Colorado ranch at the foothills of Mesa Verde, home to two dogs, two leopard-cats, one regular outdoor cat, and flock of wild doves, still had room for one more.

It was emotional for us all but we knew she could not safely stay at the Institute. David prepared his van, invited Sundance to join him and off they went. We wondered how would she fit into David and Sherry’s life? It took some settling in but after a day or two Sundance has befriended the entire family, even (respectfully) the cats! A real bonus for one used to roaming far and wide is the thirty acres of woods to explore. With a little guidance, tolerance, and a lot of love, the Nighteagles have integrated this wild thing into their big happy family.

We get updates, photos, stories form the Nighteagles every few days. Sundance is home. She creates a buzz wherever she goes and the Nighteagles could not be more thrilled.

About David Nighteagle
Best known as an native flute maker and performer, David is also an exceptional storyteller who was strongly influenced by his Lakota Sioux grandfather. He has devoted himself to inspiring and educating children using flute music and stories as a catalyst .

David has been associated with the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center for more than 16 years. David educates children and adults through his performances and through his delivery of oral histories of the traditional Indian flute. Anyone can join in and play drums and other native instruments with David in an impromptu jam session.

“The best part about working with people visiting Crow Canyon is seeing the light come to their eyes as they learn and experience the music and the storytelling,” said David. “The Crow Canyon family is my family and I am proud to be a part of the mission of the organization.” Over the years, David has reached thousands of students and has returned thousands of dollars worth of professional fees to Crow Canyon in the support of the Center’s Native American scholarship program.

David has been an invited performer at Disney World, Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde National Parks, Crow Canyon Archeological Center, and for the Sierra Club at Hovenweep National Monument. He was a guest performer for both former first ladies Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush. He was also a featured artist at the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics.