J.W. Smith Elementary Celebrates Native American Heritage Month with Pow Wow Presentation
November is known across the country as Native American Heritage Month, a time meant to celebrate the cultures, traditions, and histories of Native people. In honor of this month, Bemidji’s J. W. Smith Elementary hosted a pow wow presentation.
“We’re sharing our culture,” said ISD #31 Cultural Curriculum Specialist Jamie Copenace. “We can showcase our dancing and our dancers, kind of like the art of it.”
The presentation included a variety of performances that can be seen at pow wows. These include grass dances, shawl dances, and traditional Ojibwe jingle dress dances.
“We have dances that come from many nations,” explained Copenace.
The presentation also included an inter-tribal song, which gave students the opportunity to join in the celebration themselves.
“Inter-tribal, you know, it’s always encouraged at pow wows,” explained Copenace, “You don’t have to be in regalia, you don’t have to, you know, be Indigenous; come out and have a good time and enjoy the songs and dance and take part in it.”
All in all, events like these are meant to give students a hands-on experience with Native culture and to recognize Native heritage.
“That hands-on stuff, and just seeing that, you know, you’ll get those connections,” said Copenace. “They’ll start sharing with that, and they’re very eager, and very positive to that.”
This pow wow presentation was performed last year as well, and Copenace hopes to continue the event in the future.