Circle Around with the Native American Culture

When people walk into my house and see the hand woven rugs, baskets, art, and more, they wonder how much Native American blood is in my ancestry.  It’s not my blood, nor how I was raised, but since living in Utah amongst red rocks and the Navajo tribes, these ARE special places and people carved in my heart.  I have a deep and profound respect for the unique culture, beliefs, focus, heritage, artistry, MUSIC, and Ancient Teachings of the Native American people.

It is my honor and pleasure to share some of their music, instruments, dances, and stories with others from time to time.  This summer, this culture was our first lesson in our Around the World series, shared once a week with both my Kindermusik students, as well as the students in the Lighthouse Ministry Preschool here in Lakeland.   Many of the songs are found in the Kindermusik recordings, from the Feathers unit of the Village (babies) program, to the 2nd year of Kindermusik for the Young Child (5 – 7 years), the culture and music of the Native Americans are offered in ways best suited for children at each age.   I hope this introduction helps children of all ages begin to appreciate the gifts offered to ALL of us by the Native American people.  It is only a beginning, because a full study would take a lifetime.

Because of my acute interest, there are many other resources which were used in developing an agenda of activities making details about this culture engaging for preschool age children.   The children were fascinated to see and feel dried corn and corn meal and see the rock tools the natives used to grind it… then we learned a fun song and game about grinding corn using shakers to grind out a repeated rhythm:  ti-ti-ta.  The girls delighted in seeing and talking about Kaya, the Nez Perce American Girl Doll and all the accessories my daughter has collected, as well as the traditions and the language we learned from her books.   A real powwow drum was used to create the heartbeat of some traditional songs.   Then we wore bells around our ankles and feathers in our hands to dance in circles to Crystal Woman’s “Fancy Dancer”.  And soooo much more.

We had a lot of fun and learned much, but there is so much more to know.  Parents may want to enjoy reviewing the following information with their children, discussing the ideas and finding ways to expand their knowledge of Indians past their participation in the first Thanksgiving feast.  Or as one boy said this week, “That’s the people that Peter Pan helped – he rescued the girl.”   I am glad he had something he could relate to… and that’s at least a great starting place for our cultural excursions.

There are many and varied tribes of Native Americans, tribes who were scattered in small groups all over North America.

They are a colorful people full of stories and songs about each of their own tribes, each very different from the other.

Because methods for writing were so long absent, they handed down their history and beliefs to their children by telling stories and singing songs around the campfire at night.

All the tribes are different – BUT – they all treasured the earth as their mother, the sky as their father, and considered themselves to be living among the animals and plants as their brothers and sisters.

 

Sacred Fire Ancient Teachings

Crystal Woman is a current Cherokee recording artist, blending ancient traditions into new music that touches the soul.  From her album Sacred Fire, Ancient Teachings, I love to share the two step circle dance of “Sacred Fire, Ancient Teachings”, and add the fun bells, scarves, and feathers for “Fancy Dancer”.   The circle is the beginning and the end, and the soul grows within it.  I believe the students can feel that when they are dancing around and around.  I know I do.

Here is her introduction to the beliefs of the Cherokee people that I believe children can relate to.  Enjoy discussing these ideas with your children.  Yes, even preschool age children can get a basic understanding of these ideas with your lively conversations.  It may help reflect and reinforce some of your own beliefs and values, or give examples of how this is different from what your family values and believes.

 

“We feel a deep and sacred love for Mother Earth and all her children.

We are reawakened to Ancient teachings and with a good heart and deep respect do we ask to

receive these Ancient Teachings that have been handed down from one generation to the next.

We call on our “Spirit Teachers” and our “Guides” to teach us in the dream time,

and to send us teachers into this time to guide us.

May the blessings of Creator touch your lives, and as you walk in the splendor and beauty of Mother Earth,

may your hearts open to the sacred fire of knowledge

and the memory of the Ancient Ones fill you with peace and healing.

Ho…”            - Crystal Woman

 

Crystal Woman’s information and recordings are available at http://cdbaby.com/cd/crystalwoman2.

 

I first met her at the Festival of the White Buffalo Pow Wow which is held annually at the Auburndale International Market World (Central Florida) in mid-January.  She is not there every year, but the spirit of the Native Americans thrives at this Pow Wow in MANY good people.  If you live elsewhere, look for a Pow Wow in your community, take your children to meet real people of this ancient heritage, listen and dance with the music, it is a wonderful experience.   The following is a little video clip of a circle dance at a Pow Wow.

 

 

In the video, WATCH for the two step dances that are a part of life for all ages, and how each performs it differently.   And, LISTEN for the drums and the chanters that are the core of the circle dances.

 

I love to share wonderful videos and information in these articles on my website.  Another one of my postings may help bring alive the spirit that the DRUM brings to these people and their culture.

 

Native American Drum Maker shares drum, song & meaning

 

How have you and your child explored the culture of the Native American people?   Which tribes are (or were) in the territory where you live?

One comment

  1. In the 1970s drums had began incorporating native words in addition to vocables. Groups such as the Black Lodge Singers have released songs with English words, such as on their children’s albums. The Black Lodge Singers of White Swan Washington are a Native American Drum group led by Kenny Scabby Robe, of the Blackfeet Nation Given the inter-tribal style of pow wow music it may be viewed as less traditional or valuable though the music is also used to support tribal identity and display the value of a living culture.

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