Cultural Awareness Gathering 2019

Cultural Awareness Gathering 2019

Music, dancing, and great food; what better way is there to express your culture or anyone else’s? Here at Lake Roosevelt High School in Grand Coulee Dam, WA, Sept 26, 2019 we had a Cultural Awareness Gathering to celebrate Native American Day. NAD is celebrated in our community and district to honor indigenous peoples and to expose our students to traditional local culture.

Those who have suffered through violent acts during the period of westward expansion in this country need to be remembered – not forgotten, not put to the side… but honored and respected. We do that through assemblies and through talking about what happened to the indigenous peoples of this continent.

We take time to remember and pay our respects to the people that have passed and gone before us. Indigenous people didn’t deserve to suffer or have hatred on their name. They were minding their own business when a whole world of hurt and pain came chugging along.

Almost like they had nothing better to do but take something that never belonged to them. Land, family and attempt of taking a long line of tradition. It’s difficult to discuss all this, especially for those whose families and ancestors went through all of it. Talking about it and bringing it all back, is what helps prevent it from happening again.

We don’t know what the future has in store for any of us, but we can help out a stop to the negativity that we spread. It may come to a stop with one person, two, or three even but we can’t change anything if we don’t discuss and learn about any of it.

The festivities opened with a prayer and three motivational speakers: Kamiea Pino, 2018 Miss Colville Confederated Tribes, Tribal Councilmember Jarred Erickson CCT, and artist/activist James Pakootas   “The speech from James was very good, I liked him.” explains a new teacher Mr. Thompson at LRHS.

I believe that anyone can agree, Pakootas’ speech hit reality and another level of motivation that not a lot of people can hit. He encouraged safety, love and family for about 20 minutes, and during all of that time he had student’s heads turning. It also seemed as if he was giving all of his pain or happiness to us.

We could all feel the energy he was feeling. I’m not going to lie, while we were celebrating culture after a bit… I didn’t know what else to do. As far as learning a thing or two about traditions other people have it was amazing however, doing it over and over again every single year doesn’t keep others interested anymore.

“We are trying to incorporate more” Mrs. Stanger, the Indian Education Director at LRHS explains. I believe that younger students were more interested in playing with their friends precisely because you cannot sit for about six hours and do five stations. Though I must admit they were all amazing booths.

It’s not everyday that you get the opportunity to carve soap, bead things into a tasteful necklace, eat foods you may not have tried before and watch a powwow. Those are all things that can easily be taken advantage of during the time you have.

Whether you believe it or not learning about cultures besides your own opens you up to a whole new level of knowledge on a positive note. For example, languages opens you up to communication with others, it also increases your attention span along with memory.

“I feel like we need to incorporate more so that the children don’t have as much free range, the kids weren’t even paying attention,” Mr. Mears a physical education teacher at LRHS adds. The students need to be engaged and entertained otherwise they will never get the meaning behind NAD.  As far as I’m concerned Mears is correct, students did have a lot of free range, so that is something that might be changed in the years going forward.

Though from another perspective, the schools I went to before this didn’t celebrate NAD. This was my first time since I was maybe 10 years old being involved in an assembly like this. I do think that other schools should participate in it though. It broadens your perception and takes your mind out of a box.

Some people have these interpretations of others cultures that could be negative or even positive and I believe that the assembly we had was an extremely positive way of showing the beauty of a culture unfamiliar to some. I would absolutely love it if other districts got the chance to watch pow wows and look at the regalia that our students got the chance to see.

All in all, I think that most people enjoyed this year’s Cultural Awareness Gathering. This assembly wasn’t meant for students to run around and talk to their friends or gossip. It was a learning moment and a very amazing one and I hope it continues so the children and students behind me get to experience it like my friends and I did.

If I could define the Cultural Awareness Gathering of 2019 the the word “beauty” would most definitely be involved, without a doubt in my mind.