September 13, 2012
Heritage assembly showcases American Indian dance styles
By B.L. Azure
Members of the St. Ignatius Dance Troupe performed at the American Indian Heritage Assembly Friday. (B.L. Azure photo)
ST. IGNATIUS — The annual American Indian Heritage Assembly Friday at St. Ignatius Elementary was another unbridled success, according to the Title 1 teacher at St. Ignatius schools who helped facilitate the event.
“The American Indian Heritage Assembly is all good. This honoring of the culture of the local tribal people is a wonderful event to hold in our schools,” said Susan Batiuchok. “The school is a mix of several cultures that are not separate entities but components of one big culture. We are one.”
The young ladies of the St. Ignatius Dance Troupe comported well at American at the American Indian Heritage Assembly. (B.L. Azure photo)
The centerpiece of the assembly was a performance by the St. Ignatius Dance Troupe comprised of American Indian students, faculty and staff at the Mission schools.
Native American Studies teacher Aileen Plant organized the day’s festivities with the assistance of teacher Geraldine Felix and school staffer Ben Corral.
Al Plant, Jr. demonstrated some of his fancy dance techniques at the assembly, (B.L. Azure photo)
“The traditional dance is what all the Indians started out doing,” said Corral, who emceed the assembly. From the traditional style many others were beget, including, among other styles, fancy, grass and hoop dancing. “Today mostly older Indians and military veterans dance in the traditional style.”
Among the public in attendance were 30 people from the International Friendship Force. The IFF members came from Canada, Germany and the states of Georgia and Arizona. Members of the Friendship Force Missoula-Western Montana served as hosts to their out of state comrades.
“This is the third year the Friendship Force stopped by to participate in the American Indian Heritage Assembly. They are very excited about this, this witnessing and learning about the tribal traditions of dance,” said Batiuchok, who is also a member of Friendship Force Missoula-Western Montana. “We get different members of the Friendship Force each year. This is a must-stop for them when they come to the Missoula area this time of year.”
Everybody got into the spirit of the American Indian Heritage Assembly Friday at Mission Elementary School grounds. (B.L. Azure photo)
Members of the 5th grade class serve as informational tour guides for the visitors.
Batiuchok said Aileen Plant, Geraldine Felix and Ben Corral did a “wonderful job” putting the day’s activities together. Corral and Willie Pierre were also praised for their drumming and singing for the assembly.
She also gave kudos to St. Ignatius Elementary School Principal Cherie Stobie. “Cherie is a 100 percent supporter of these types of events in our school,” Batiuchok said.
Aileen Plant and Ben Corral along with Geraldine Felix organized and emceed the festivities at the American Indian Heritage Assembly at the Mission schools. (B.L. Azure photo)
The closing of the day’s activities was the round dance where everyone joined in, linked hands and spirits, and melded the cultural components into one of shared humanity under a cloudless blue Big Sky umbrella.