The Great Falls Public Schools' Indigenous Education Department is combining culture and dance as they prep students for the upcoming school district powwow on May 14th.
Youth Development Specialist Angela Heavygun described how exposing students to traditional native dance and drum is important. “As a culture, I feel like we are very accepting and invite people with open arms. Whether you are a tribal member or not, there is something for everyone and this is really special.”
As part of an after-school program, the Indigenous Education Department offers the Dance and Drum Club for native and non-native students of all ages. As well as teaching dance and drum songs, the students have also had the opportunity to make their own dance regalia. “I’m very excited for them. We are going to be prepping them these next few weeks for their outfits and fitting them. As long as they feel confident, feel good in their outfit, then that’s all that matters,” said Helen Carlson, another Youth Development Specialist.
The students will learn traditional native dances like jingle dancing, fancy shaw dancing, traditional women’s, traditional men’s, and grass dancing. “Like most indigenous cultures, our people are one and that’s what we try to teach our children. It gives students a chance to express their culture. Like, I tell the kids all the time that when they’re dancing, they’re telling their own story. They just gotta be on beat.” Explained Angela.
Lily Kennerly, a second-grader, talked about how much she loves to dance. “It’s really fun because you learn how to dance with shawls and jingles. It’s really fun!”
The entire community is invited to the powwow that is to be held in the CMR Fieldhouse. Angela went on to describe the special feeling powwows can bring to attendees, native or not. “It’s a whole ‘nother feeling when you’re there. You know, I think everybody gets that feeling because it’s just so meaningful to see all the dancers. It’s so special, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. Especially seeing everyone’s reactions, you’d just have to see it to believe it.”
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