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Monday, May 20, 2024 at 3:13 PM
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ChurchillCSD Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

ChurchillCSD Celebrates Native American Heritage Month
FPST Drum and Dance Group. Photos courtesy of ChurchillCSD.

November is Native American Heritage Month. It's a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the significant contributions of Native American people. It is also an opportune time to educate the community about Native American tribes, to raise general awareness about the unique challenges Native American people have faced historically and in the present, and how tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges. With the assistance of the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe (FPST), all ChurchillCSD schools hosted assemblies that encompassed a little about Native American history, traditions, heritage, and culture. They brought a dance and drum group to each school that performed for the students and staff. 

Lisa Bedoy, Director of the FPST Community Learning Center (CLC), supports the partnership with ChurchillCSD, “It was a pleasure collaborating and working with the Churchill County School District Title VI program to bring in our Native American Heritage Assemblies at the schools. It was great to have the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe share and show their culture with the community and students while also hearing encouraging and inspiring words from our Chairwoman, Cathi Tuni. The staff at the Community Learning Center, Adrian Tom, Leona Mineard, Letisha Yellowhawk, and Austin Littlen, worked extremely hard to make everything possible. I am truly blessed to have them as my team.” 

Native Americans have been playing the drum for thousands of years and continue to play them now. The drum plays a large part in the native culture and is believed to resemble the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Dance is also a tradition in Native American culture. The dancers performed the Jingle dance, Women's Traditional dance, Men’s Traditional Warrior dance, and the Fancy dance at the schools. Each dance has meaning and cultural relevance. From the footwork to how the dancers move their arms to the outfits they wear - it all represents something.

FPST Elder, community member, and storyteller Ray Allen also attended the assemblies to share stories with the students. Storytelling is a tradition that’s very important to Native American culture. “Back in the day when there were no cell phones or television, this was considered a form of entertainment. The stories were often told by our elders, and they would add song and drums to their stories to make them even more entertaining,” said FPST CLC Education Specialist Adrian Tom. 

The first story Allen told was about his grandma, who would travel by wagon here in the mountains with her family when she was a young girl. As they rode around, they would all sing as they traveled. She repeatedly sang this same song to Allen, his brother, and his sister until they went to sleep. “She said that when she was young, her parents, aunts, and uncles would all sing that same song, and as they were singing, the wind would blow through the pine trees, and the trees and the pinecones would dance, and they would shake, and sway in the wind and the sound was very pretty,” said Allen. “I want to thank Churchill County School District for inviting me to share my culture. I am looking forward to next year’s assemblies.”

Native American Heritage Month is just a small part of teaching the students, staff, and community about Native American heritage and culture. Kailey Mineard, an 11th-grade student at Churchill County High School, said, “It was a great opportunity to show the students my culture; I feel proud to be Native American. ” Another student, Scartlett Austin from Numa Elementary School, added, “It was fun sharing my culture with the students. I think they learned a lot and liked our dances.”  

ChurchillCSD works closely with the FPST CLC staff and has a Title VI Indian Education program for Native American students. “It is our priority to work with the FPST to honor the profound impact Native Americans continue to have in shaping our community and to ensure we are doing what is best for their students and their families so they can learn, thrive, grow and succeed,” said ChurchillCSD Director of Learning and Innovation Kathryn Bervin-Muller. 

Tribal Chairwoman and former ChurchillCSD Educator Catherine Tuni emphasizes the importance of this community partnership. “As Tribal Councilwoman, I support the continued relationship with the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe and ChurchillCSD. I went to school and graduated from the district, and my family members also attended. It is important to see these events come back. We look forward to improving our students’ growth in educational and cultural experiences through our Title VI educational and cultural activities.”
 

Visit our Facebook page to view some amazing pictures of the dancers. 



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