ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Central Plains Dancers stopped by the Grace Museum Thursday, to share their culture during Native American Heritage Month.

Cecil Gray, a member of the Cheyenne and Kiowa tribes, spoke with KTAB/KRBC about what his heritage means to him.

The Central Plains Dancers, made up of around 20 to 30 people, represent multiple different Native American tribes, such as the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Ponca, Tonkawa and more.

“It means a lot. It’s who we are,” Gray began to explain his gratitude. “It’s important for us to carry on our culture and our way of life. So, it’s important for us to teach our children.”

Gray also spoke to how important it is in his culture to teach others as well, as he said he’s seen misrepresentation of the Native American culture.

“They [each tribe] have their own travel languages, their own customs, their own ceremonies. Everything’s different for every tribe and that’s what a lot of people may not understand,” Gray cleared up. “So we try to do our best to explain that.”

The Central Plains Dancers showcase the different tribes by the telling people about the origins of their dances and stories, and showing the stories through the dances. Gray told KTAB/KRBCA the children love doing this, and they dance from their hearts. He said that one day, his generation will be gone and it will be up to the next to carry on their history.

Traditionally, Native Americans learn about customs and dances from word of mouth, rather than books, because that is how their ancestors were taught. When it comes to the dances, seeing them are one thing, but understanding them is key.

“To know the story behind them, and why they are the way they are, and why they wear this particular type of regalia,” Gray added. “That really helps people connect with the overall sense of what that particular dance style represents.”