Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pow Wow Memories

Preschooler Courtney Timmons (Bogard)
My very first Pow Wow was with my daughter, Courtney, when she was a preschooler.  She and her sweet little friends sang songs around a paper campfire about "Indians" and prayed with thanksgiving for all their blessings. Parents were invited to join them for a feast that included a paper bag folded into the shape of a turkey.  When it was "carved," the children were delighted to see that it was stuffed with popcorn!

Preschoolers at Alimacni Elementary School

The very next year, in the inaugural year of Alimacani Elementary School, Courtney danced into the courtyard with her kindergarten tribe (led by Linda Zeiler) as  I led my own tribe of preschoolers to celebrate the first Alimacani Pow Wow. As I recall we honored Chief Alimacani at that celebration and each Pow Wow afterwards, as he had once walked on the very ground where the school and children  now stood.   I continued to celebrate Pow Wow with my preschoolers each year as Courtney marched through her years of elementary life.  She graduated to middle school and after a total of ten years, and ten memorable Pow Wows, I moved to Chets Creek... and so did the Pow Wow!

Pow Wow came to Chets Creek with that cute and perky Kindergarten Lead Teacher (surplussed from Alimacani to Chets Creek) Susan Phillips. Susan, Chief Jumping Frog (named after her collection of frogs during the Alimacani multi-track years when her kindergarten class "jumped" from class to class every three weeks!) now leads Chets Creek as its Principal. She brought Pow Wow with her to this new school of Creekers and thus began one of our most endearing traditions.

Chief Jumping Frog and Peaceful Waters
Of course, Creeker teachers weren't satisfied with the traditional generic Pow Wow and so at the insistence of a music teacher, Dan Smith, they began to research and develop more authentic tribes and attire, songs and dances.  In the midst of all that authenticity two of my favorite Native Americans emerged, my daughter-in-law and kindergarten teacher Randi Timmons of the Mighty Iroquois Nation and my sweet granddaughter, Kallyn, of the peaceful Lenape tribe. That's a very special memory!
Randi Timmons and Kallyn

Our beloved JB getting ready to raise the tepee.
What has evolved over the years is a crowning traditional event at Chets Creek that includes a study of traditional music and foods and even a tepee that rises like a phoenix on the eve of Pow Wow thanks to the genius of our beloved James Boyd and KK Cherney and all of her tribe of workers.  Each kinder tribe has the opportunity during the Pow Wow day to spend some time in the tepee with the master storyteller, Peaceful Waters (aka "Miss KK") as she weaves her story of the Three Sisters.  She then passes the "talking stick" and gives each child and adult the opportunity to tell the group why they are thankful.  There are always tears and it's usually an adult who is hit by the pure innocence and raw honesty of the children. One of the most special times for me is the opportunity at the end of the day for the Leadership Team to lay under the tepee and think about our own blessings - and they are many.
Leadership Team counting their blessings inside the tepee.
This year I will be watching Pow Wow with fifth graders who will have their own memories of being a kindergarten Native American to fill their minds as they hear the music and watch the excitement... and as they realize that this is the last Pow Wow that they will experience at Chets Creek.  Last year's K-1 class was my final year with a tribe of kindergarten First Americans - Wise Woman of the Mighty Iroquois Nation,
The Mighty Iroquois Nation
but the snapshots of Pow Wows will live with me forever in my memory.  And each year as we approach Thanksgiving, not only will I be counting my blessings but I will be thinking of the new crop of little kindergartners who will have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  After all that is what the Chets Creek experience is all about.


Maria Mallon & Cheryl Dillard said...

What a great capsule review of Pow Wow through the years! It is one of my favorite Chets Creek traditions and I have loved seeing how it has evolved through the years. But there was sure something special about the construction paper head gear and campfires! Here's to the 18th year of Pow Wow at CCE!!MM

Melanie Holtsman said...

No matter how many times I experience it, with my children and without, it brings tears to my eyes. Lifetime memories for children and their parents. If our students walk away with those precious moments of thankfulness in the tepee - our job is done. I will forever tear up when seeing the tepee raised because I remember the days and days of sewing JB did putting it together. Thank you for sharing your precious memories as they reminded me of my sweet ones as well with my little ones. xoxo