RONAN — Little moccasins stomped to the beat of the drum during the 44th Annual Head Start Powwow. Roughly 600 guests from Head Start centers across the reservation came together to celebrate culture and commemorate another year. Aside from the powwow, the event included an Indian Taco feed and a health oriented Round Dance Prize Walk.
Dancers of all ages took to the gymnasium floor with students from Head Start centers across the reservation participating in the grand entry. CSD Coach Jackie Johnson said the powwow is a learning experience as much as it is a celebration. “Our goal is to celebrate with our families in a healthy way,” she said. “But it is also a cultural learning experience for our families. They get to learn about the powwow protocols and etiquette and how to participate in a positive way.”
Prior to the powwow, Head Start students worked with cultural specialists in the classroom throughout the year learning about Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai languages and cultures during “culture circles.” Cultural Coordinator Jesse Nenemay said the powwow was an extension of the classroom. “Our theme was ‘Building resiliency through culture and language,’” he said.”(Early Childhood Services) recognizes that culture and language play a role in healing intergenerational trauma. The powwow served as a part of what our students have been learning throughout the year.”
Each year, the program provides a meal for guests and this year, Indian Tacos were on the menu. Johnson said the meal was provided in collaboration between the Ronan School and Head start cooking staffs. “Both head cooks and staff worked hard to not only prepare but serve the meal,” she said. “We also had an elder’s seating section in the dining area and students served their meals and also got them coffee. It was great to see our students learning the value of our community’s elders.”
Numbers were placed on the gymnasium floor as guests round danced their way to prizes. After each song, numerous numbers were called and winners had a choice of tables full of health-oriented prizes including fruit and healthy snacks as well as outdoor and athletic toys for all ages. “We wanted to promote healthy eating and lifestyle to our families because that’s a part of our culture,” Nenemay said. “The Good Food store sponsored items for the walk and rather than just a bunch of throw away toys I also included household items for the parents.”
Six local drum groups performed for the event including: Chief Cliff, Yamncut, Snyelmn, Lower Crossing, Southern Cree, and Purple Rain. This year’s Master of Ceremonies was Jordan Stasso, the Eagle Staff Carrier was Tony Adams, Head Woman Dancer was Naiomi Robinson, and Head Man Dancer was Noah Durheim. Arena Director was Allen Pierre.
Johnson said ECS was thankful for the community involvement. “We’re very appreciative of the parents that came to participate and the drum groups and dancers,” she said. “Everyone worked together and made the powwow a success. We’re also thankful for the elders who came to support our students. Thank you to the dancers and drum groups for sharing with us.”