Editor’s note: The original version of this article incorrectly labeled the dance that Trujillo spontaneously performed as one from the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh. The dance was a men’s northern traditional dance not associated with a particular pueblo. We apologize for the error.
Ashkia “Kia” Randy Trujillo left his car idling as he jumped out onto Central Avenue in downtown Albuquerque on Saturday evening to spontaneously perform a portion of a men’s northern traditional storytelling dance.
Video of the performance captured by a Daily Lobo photographer went viral almost immediately, attracting more than 5 million views and highlighting the influence of Native American voters in the 2020 election.
The dance is one that has been done for generations “to depict a successful hunt or a victorious battle” depending on the dancer, Trujillo said to the Daily Lobo in an interview.
Trujillo’s dance was part of a larger community celebration in honor of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s defeat of Donald J. Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
University of New Mexico journalism student and Daily Lobo photographer Sharon Chischilly captured the moment on video and posted it to her Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Chischilly is Navajo — born and raised in the Navajo Nation, an area that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic — and is known for her prowess in depicting Indigenous communities. Over the last six months, Chischilly’s photography has been featured in the Navajo Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other international outlets.
By Monday afternoon, the video had garnered 240,000 likes, over 34,000 retweets and more than 9,000 overwhelmingly positive comments. A number of verified Twitter users shared the video, including the rapper Common, Congresswoman Deb Haaland and actor and Indigenous rights activist Mark Ruffalo.
Given COVID-19 pandemic social distancing directives and Albuquerque’s long history of weekend cruises down Central, the car rally and Trujillo’s response to the election results were the New Mexican manifestation of the joy and relief much of the many in the community and across the globe were experiencing.
“Without a single word, this Native American man expressed every feeling of VICTORY, jubilation and undeniable RELIEF that every American feels right now about tRump being voted out. I’m in tears. I feel this IN MY SOUL,” Stacey Laney posted to Twitter.
Trujillo told the Daily Lobo in an interview that he has been the group leader for a dance group from the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh for the past 10 years. The dance group was the first youth dance group — all under the age of 18 from Ohkay Owingeh — to ever perform outside of the pueblo.
Usually group leaders are elders, according to Trujillo, but he has been practicing and learning since he was two years old. Trujillo said that this dance was just another example of his deep commitment to “bring friends together to continue our culture and traditions.”
When asked how he felt about the influx of attention his dance was garnering, Trujillo said, “(To be honest), I'm actually surprised. I never expected to get this much recognition. I feel as if now it’s my duty to do my best to express the voice of my Indigenious people.”
Lissa Knudsen is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lissaknudsen