2015 American Indian Festival

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by cassiekatstone
Last updated 5 years ago

Social Studies
American History

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2015 American Indian Festival

2nd annual American Indian Festival- Thornton, Colorado

Mark Holland, a world renowned native flutist, not only performed but celebrated stories passed down from his elders. He spoke of the gentlemen, who would learn all they were to know about becoming a warrior from their grandfathers and how they would use their skills to impress their love. He spoke of their lives together and how they would both sacrifice to be together. He also honored the four souls of the mountain; the Eagle, Bear, Buffalo, and wolf, which gave the warriors peace. Underlying all the stories was the lesson to thank the Great Maker for all that we have.

The goal of the festival was to celebrate their Native American heritage while educating others about the stories of their people. Many people would engage you in conversation or were very friendly when you began a conversation with them. I spoke with one gentlemen who is silversmith; creating jewelry pieces that reflect his culture. He invited me to learn more during a powwow next weekend. Additionally, the performers invited the crowed to join in and learn a few dances. It doesn’t take much to challenge my comfort zone but I did participate. Regardless of the fact I have two left feet and blushing cheeks I felt they appreciated our effort. Maybe my American Indian name can be She Who Blushes. The lovely people made the second annual American Indian Festival in Thornton, Colorado an inviting experience where rather than feeling isolated I felt welcomed. It was apparent that I was indeed an outsider but I did not feel fearful.

Culture shock came in the highlighted dichotomy between the love and preservation of their culture and my obvious lack of cultural identity. Being a member (for the most part) of the dominant culture, I rarely think about my culture and what it means to, and has shaped me. The wow moment came when I, and my 10yr old son, realized how much we longed for some kind of connection similar to what we were facing. I went into the experience thinking I might feel a bit excluded but would keep my mind open and left feeling thankful and honestly a bit jealous.

Although this was an extremely positive experience, I spent a majority of my time thinking it would be quite difficult to learn in that setting. I found myself reluctant to start conversations for fear of sounding or saying something odd. While I was able to pick up incredibly simple dances, it would have been nearly impossible to retain large amounts of academic information. Moreover, at times it was easy to feel somewhat sensory overloaded. Culturally diverse students, even in the most inviting situations, are facing an immense disadvantage. Our students will be constantly struggling with over sensory stimulation as well as verbal and non-verbal differences while attempting to acquire information that may be presented in a way which challenges their natural way of learning.


Participating in dance


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