Last updated: November 05. 2013 12:15PM - 1535 Views
Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer

Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentStudents performed traditional Native American dances for the fifth-grade students at Sunset Avenue School.
Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentStudents performed traditional Native American dances for the fifth-grade students at Sunset Avenue School.
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The Clinton City Schools Indian Education program, directed by Sharon Williams, enlightened and enriched students by engaging them in a hands-on approach that enabled students to learn by using all of their senses.

On Thursday morning, fifth-grade students at Sunset Avenue Elementary School learned about Native Americans in a program that was full of life. Williams is the system’s Indian Education coordinator who does all five schools in the Clinton City School district. The district receives funding from the federal government through Title VII which is earmarked specifically for Indian Education. The funding is for the education of Native American people and particularly children.

The students spent over an hour going through different stations to learn more in-depth about different aspects of the Native American community. The students, who have been studying Native Americans in their Social Studies classes, were able to further enrich themselves through the hands-on activities. Walking from class to class, the fifth-graders learned a variety of lessons and had the chance to actively participate in some of the events.

Students from the school, as well as a Sampson Community College student, and students from other area schools participated in the dancing presentation. Different styles of dance kept the group focused and entertained during the entire performance. The first dance was a group dance that allowed dancers to show off their elaborate regalia.

“The regalia were all handmade,” said Williams. “The students and their families worked painstakingly to create the different regalia. These regalia are not something you can just go out and buy at Walmart.” Different regalia represented different styles of dancing and the students grouped themselves accordingly when the music changed. Some of the music featured a strong prominence of Native American drums and the students that listened and watched followed the footwork of the dancers.

The regalia were very bright, some of which had florescent colors and sequins, were called the fancy dancers by Williams and had brilliant colors and lots of adornments. Sleeves were often decorated by butterflies and other decorations. Their regalia featured many different ribbons and also had shawl like covers that covered the girls shoulders and went halfway down their backs. The shawls were trimmed in coordinating colors and also had exquisite detailed designs as well.

Rylan Ammons’ regalia was one that has been handed down in his family for generations, and is more traditional, said Williams.

“When he dances it mimics a hunting expedition,” explained Williams to the crowd of students. His regalia is adorned with feathers as was his headdress. The trims on the regalia are masculine with richer, darker colors filling it out.

“The girls’ traditional regalia have hand cut fringes,” said Williams. “The fringes are meant to sway with the music.”

Miss Coharie, Samantha Lanning, led some of the dancers in a line during a segment of one of the dances. The Teen Miss Coharie, Talia Faircloth, also participated with the Junior Miss Coharie, Hailee Smith. The group consisted of a variety of ages from elementary to community college.

While the students watched the dancing they had the opportunity to try some Native American fried bread before going to the next station.

“The bread is made out of flour and water,” said Christine Brewington, a fifth-grade teacher at the school. She operated the fried bread station with the help of some of the other staff. The fried bread is topped with powdered sugar and honey. The fried bread is also used to make Native American tacos, she said.

The groups also went to a walking museum where Kalyn Moody, a teacher at Sunset Avenue, had items staged for the students to look at while they listened to her presentation. The presentation explained the significance of the items to the students, who were also given a chance to respond if they knew what the items were from their Social Studies class. A fur stretcher was there with a bobcat fur on it. Other items included a bird house made out of a gourd, a deer’s foot which was used in ceremonies, as well as more readily identify-able items such as ceremonial necklaces and dream catchers.

“I was told once that the two different colors on the dream catcher serve separate purposes. One color is to catch the bad dreams and the other color is to attract good dreams,” said Moody to the class.

Moving on down the hall the students went to the classroom of Christine Senger, who taught the students a game. “The game is similar to rock, paper, scissors, but the items are instead Earth, Water, and Fire” she said. Using the projector she explained to the students the how it worked. The name of the game is tillikum, which means friend in Chinook. The Chinooks come from the Pacific Northwest coast.

To celebrate the 175th year of the Trail of Tears a special presentation will be held at Sampson Middle on Nov. 22 9:30 a.m.

For more information about the Clinton City Schools Indian Education Program contact Williams at Sampson Middle School by calling her at SMS, 592-3132, ext. 5175 or emailing her at shwilliams@clinton.k12.nc.us

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at ebrown@civitasmedia.com

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