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Box Elder Native American Week celebrates culture


September 26, 2013

Lindsay Brown

Deo Top Sky, 9, dances the men's prairie chicken dance Wednesday afternoon at Box Elder School. The event was part of Native American Week.

Box Elder School is celebrating Native American culture all week with talks from elders and presentations.

Members of the tribal council, elders and community members have been going to the school since Monday to talk with the kids and share stories.

Councilman Dustin Whitford of Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation on Wednesday gave a talk about role models and the importance of abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

Presentations of raw-hiding, baskets and beadwork, hand drum playing and traditional games were also brought to the school to illustrate and remind the students of their culture.

“Every day is Native American week for us,” Elder Louise Stump said to students. “Be responsible for yourself, your health and for other people.”

Stump is a former instructor of Native American studies at Stone Child College and part of the Peacemakers, an alternative court for cultural issues within the Chippewa and Cree people.

Wednesday brought a presentation of traditional powwow dancing to the gymnasium of the school. There were youths showing their skill and passion in the fancy shawl dance, prairie chicken dance, men’s fancy dance and the round dance.

“They touch each other and share the spirituality of the dance,” the announcer of the event said about the round dance, where the dancers held hands and side-steped in a circle around a man singing traditional song and beating a drum.

Youths also danced the jingle dress dance.

“The jingles are similar to the sounds of the Northern Lights,” the announcer said.

The dance presentations ended with another round dance, but with all the students in the audience participating.

Native American week at Box Elder School will be wrapped up with the Elders and Parents Bear Pride Walk at the school gymnasium today. Kindergarten, first- and second-grade students will start the walk at 12:30 p.m., third- to fourth-grade students will begin at 12:15 p.m. and fifth- to sixth-grade students at 1 p.m.

Parents, grandparents and guardians are welcome to join in on the walk. Native American games will also be played during the walk.

“Each class is making something to walk with to show Bear Paw pride and our values as well,” Kishey Baker, one of the main organizers of Box Elder School’s Native American Week, said. “A high majority of the children are from the Chippewa Cree tribes, and we all need to have our cultural identity.”

Baker said Native American week has been highly successful. All the speakers and dancers made it to their events throughout the week.

There will be no school Friday in celebration of Native American Day.


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