Many families, students and teachers in the Nebo School District braved the snowy blast from Mother Nature on Monday night to attend the Title VI Storytelling Night held at Larsen Elementary. It was truly an authentic, accurate and enriching event. Holding with tradition; on such nights where the land is covered with snow and the cold sends you inside, Native American families throughout our country would gather together in their hogans, tipis, wickiups, long houses or pueblos and tell stories, give counsel and sing songs. And so it was on Monday Night. We welcomed our district family to Larsen Elementary.
The evening started with a dinner of Indian Tacos. Some just wanted frybread with honey butter. But, there was no honey butter, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar to be had, because, traditionally a pinch of salt is the only topping put on frybread. Some tried it, others ate their frybread plain, a new experience for their palette.
The Nebo Performing Arts Group entertained during the dinner hour with songs and dances they learn on Wednesdays at the homework lab held every week. These students recently represented Nebo School District on the hill by invitation from our Superintendent, Rick Nielsen. On this night, the students were able to share their cultural knowledge and yes, dance gratitude for the moisture that the land just received. Among the dancers, our own two beautiful Nebo princesses shined with grace. Jenna Woods, Navajo and Tava Groves, Hopi-Ute are examples of strength and vitality of Native American youth in our district.
The highlight of the evening were two storytellers. Julius Chavez weaved his telling through how things came to be and into how young men and women should carry themselves. He sang songs that told their own stories and ended with a charge for all to search out what the creator has set them here on earth to do. Larry Cesspooch told humorous personal stories of his early life experiences. Through these tellings, the audience was able to reflect on how different yet similar childhood is. He explained how the six fingered flute came to the Ute people. He also gave counsel on finding your strengths and allowing these gifts to carry you through life. Both storytellers enthralled those in attendance.
The Storytelling Night was attended by many Native American families. But, the most pleasant surprise was the attendance of many non-native families. Our own superintendent Rick Nielsen and director of federal programs, Mike Larsen with his family joined in the gathering. Others came with friends or even alone. Many of these were students whose teachers offered extra credit for this event. Applause to these students who were willing to step out of their comfort zones even if it was for a few extra points. Their authentic learning will last longer than the class. One student said, “Where can I go to another one of these?” An indication that hands were stretched across cultures.
A very special thank you to those teachers who saw this event as an opportunity for students to experience firsthand traditional ways. And, most importantly these teachers didn’t limit learning about Native Americans to a three-week unit in their history books last fall. It is to such educators we say, the world looks bright. Thank you also goes to Larsen Elementary principal, Cami Thomas, who saw the worth of such a night. She dove right in and learned how an Indian Taco is made by helping serve those who gathered. She also experienced Native humor which might still make her chuckle.
All in all it was a memorable event. It happens every winter, storytelling; now in apartments, brick homes, condos, and yes, schools. Just as it should be.
Storytelling is a tradition among all Native Americans. This is a time to relate history, give counsel and explain natural phenomenon. The storytellers are charged not only with entertaining but also with passing down oral traditions. This writer remembers cold winter evenings sitting by her grandfather as he told stories that brought vivid images to her mind. It was a time for family togetherness, wisdom shared and new learning.
This Monday, February 27th, Nebo's Indian Education program will be holding their storytelling night at Larsen Elementary. Two featured tellers, Julius Chavez and Shawn Cesspooch will take center stage. Our own Nebo Performing Arts Group will also entertain with some hand drum songs and dances.
To begin the evening, Indian Taco will be for sale for $7 a plate or 5 plates for $30. All monies will benefit the Parent Committee Scholarship Program which in the past has handed out over 15 scholarships to students graduating from Nebo School District High Schools.
Come and join us with your family for this event. It starts at 6:00 p.m. with dinner until 7:00 p.m. At 7:00, the storytelling portion will begin. It is being held at Larsen Elementary in Spanish Fork, Utah. Please call Eileen Quintana for more information.
On Monday February 6th, Nebo Title VI (Indian Education), participated in American Indian Caucus Day at the State Capitol. This is a time when tribal leaders and state leaders are able to meet together and discuss issues that impact Indian people in our great state. Community members and partners of the Native community were also invited.
This year, forty three Native American students and parents were able to make the trek up to the Capitol. Nebo’s own performing arts group was invited to sing some hand drum songs and do a sign language performance to open the Caucus meeting. Some of the students were able to meet concern citizens from Monument Valley. They were able to ask questions of these Elders about various issues facing their respective communities. One student said, “I was surprised by what they had to say. It made what I see on TV more real.”
The group was also able to take a tour of the capitol with a knowledgeable docent that gave them a peek into the governor’s office. They were also able to have some time in the House of Representatives to view the bills that were being discussed and debated before votes were taken. Another tour was taken with the state’s historian to view the maps that were on display in the capitol. It was wonderful to note that on every map there was evidence of Indigenous communities past or present.
One of our own Native American Seniors- Nicholas Nez was able to job shadow a representative during the day. He spent the day with one of our representatives who gave him a look into the responsibilities of representing a community. Nicholas had a long day on the hill but had an incredible experience.
Eileen Quintana, program manager said, “We want Nebo American Indian students to be involved, informed and inspired to be active participants in the issues facing their communities. Soon they will be the leaders of their Tribal Nations.”
This is the third year in a row the Nebo Title VI has participated. They plan to continue making this trip year after year.
Join us for a wonderful opportunity! We are taking a bus on Monday, February 6, 2017 to the State Capitol to participate in the American Indian Caucus Day. This is an opportunity to interact with legislators and state and tribal leaders. We will take a tour of the capitol, watch the process of the passing of bills in the House of Representatives chambers and meet legislators. In addition, we will listen in on discussions between state and tribal leaders in our great state. It is also a time to hand deliver letters to your legislator and give voice to your concerns or opinions on matters effecting Native Americans. Parents are also welcome to write letters to be delivered. The issues become of greater importance if a legislator receives hand written letters from their constituents.
A note and permission slip was sent to every Junior High and High school to be handed out to Native American students. If an elementary student would like to participate, we will need a parent or high school sibling to occupying them. Come to Larsen Elementary in Spanish Fork or Cherry Creek Elementary in Springville at 7:00 a.m with lunch in hand or money to buy a lunch. We will be home between 1:30 and 2:00. Please contact Eileen Quintana or Brenda Beyal for more information.
November is National Native American Heritage Month and one of the best ways to honor our heritage is by reading books written by Native authors who provide culturally and historically accurate perspectives. Here is a recommended reading list of Native American Children's Literature.