Saturday, September 26, 2009

Indian Day

And no, I'm not being racist. That's what they call it, "Indian Day".

Every year, our students celebrate Indian Day with a huge dance. The kids dress up and they dance their traditional dances. It's very pretty. The best part is the Frybread and Indian Tacos. Yum.

I will try my best to describe the dances from my "white" eyes. Oh, and the pics are from the net. I have tried every year to get good pics of the dances, and it's just too hard while watching my 27 students, and Jack, and Josh, and the lighting is really bad. So, please forgive the stock photos. I wanted you to see what it looks like.

The Kindergartners do the Cradleboard Dance. The Cradleboard is the Native American version of a sling for a baby. The baby is tied up in the cradleboard and the woman wears it on her back. She can also hang it up, say on a tree, if she is working outside. The dance is so cute. It's a partner dance, one boy and one girl. The girl is wearing the cradleboard and the boy is holding a blanket. They come in and the boy lays out the blanket. The boy helps the girl take the cradleboard off. He then holds it up and dances around in a circle. He then gives the cradleboard (and doll) back to the girl sitting on the blanket. She takes the baby out and rocks it back and forth. At the end, she puts it back in the cradleboard and ties it back up. The boy helps her put it back on her back. This dance is a favorite because the Kinders are so small and cute.

First Grade does the Painting Ceremony. When a girl becomes a woman (I hope you know where I'm going with this), she has a Sunrise Dance. Sunrise Dances are huge. They are bigger than Anglo Sweet Sixteen parties. They are bigger than Hispanic Quinceneras. They are even bigger than weddings. They last a number of days and take about 2 weeks to prepare. The entire tribe is invited. It's huge. I can't possibly describe it all here, but I will try my best at the Painting Ceremony. For the dance, four long branches are brought it and made into a teepee shape. The girl is brought in and she sits under this "teepee". The "elders" (also first graders) dance around her. She gets a massage. Then they get the "paint". In the sunrise dance, the paint is pollen. The boy takes some sage bound together and "paints" her forhead.

Second Grade does the Apache War Dance. For the dance, they wear long, black wigs. They have their spear and shield. They have war paint on their faces. They are shirtless and wear a "loincloth" and mocassins. When they dance, they whoop and hollar. When they come in, they separate into two lines facing each other. They sort of square off, and challenge each other and come into the middle ground and "fight".

Third and Fourth Grade does the Flag Dance. About 7 flags are brought in, carried by 6 students each. American, Arizona, Tribe, District, School, and a couple of others. The American flag goes to the middle and is held up high. Then 3 students (2 of which are mine) say the Pledge of Allegiance in Apache.

Fifth Grade does the Hoop Dance. I have never seen this dance. It is always about this time that my students need to use the restroom, that my Flag Dancers are returning to me and are super excited, or Jack and Josh have dirty diapers. It never fails.

Sixth Grade does the Two-Step. I know, you are thinking, that's a cowboy dance. Here's the funny thing; the Indians ARE cowboys. Wrap your mind around that one. Think about it, they rode horses a long time before white men even came here. When it's traditional dress day, the kids all wear cowboy outfits. The girls may wear camp dresses and the boys may wear ribbon shirts, but it's all jeans, and boots, and cowboy hats. Many of my students own horses. The boys bull-ride. The rodeo is big! But the funny thing about the Sixth Grade doing the Two Step is that they are nervous about touching each other to dance. Good! Let's keep it that way for a few more years!

Special Dance: Navajo Eagle Dance
For the second year now, we have been honored with the Navajo Eagle Dance. I am especially proud, as the "eagle" has been my student for 2 years. Seneca is a Navajo Dancer. He travels the circuit with his sister, doing this dance. It makes you cry, it is so beautiful. Navajo's are very different from Apaches. Just because they are both Native American, does NOT mean they are the same. To be honest, Apaches are warriors (they are proud of that) and the Navajos are so much more reserved (no pun intended). Seneca has had a hard time on this reservation, as he has been made fun of for being different. Performing this dance last year gave him some clout and I'm so proud of him.

The last dance is always the Crown Dancers. The crown dancers are pretty scary to me. I'm not allowed to know the story about them. I'm ok with that. They wear black hoods over their faces, so you don't know who they are. In fact, I just found out that one of my precious boys that I taught for 2 years is a Crown Dancer. They dance around with wooden crosses. They have jingles on their belt. It's very sacred. Girls are not even allowed to draw them. But, they are hugely revered. At this point in the ceremony, all the kids in the school are invited to stand in a huge circle around the crown dancers. Jack loves this part. He practiced dancing that morning, while we were getting ready at home. He even remembered how they sound.

I am working on getting pics of my students on here. They were so pretty on Indian Day.

where Glory meets my suffering