Students learn about Native American Culture through dance

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A dance is more than just a series of movements set to music, because it gives us a glimpse into other cultures. That’s what the current Junior Miss Flandreau Santee Sioux Princess is showing students at Harvey Dunn Elementary.

It ties in with a book students just finished reading, and with the South Dakota heritage we celebrate on Native American Day. Even in a flash of colorful regalia, Avayah Weston manages to shine brightest. When she performs what’s called a fancy shawl dance, she transforms.

“More like a butterfly,” Avayah said.

Her steps are tighter than every drumbeat she keeps time with, but at the same time, the dance’s fluid movements allow Avayah to freely express herself.

“I just love doing it for people who don’t know how to dance or cannot dance anymore,” Avayah said.

That’s what she’s doing at Harvey Dunn Elementary. The former student, now a Patrick Henry sixth grader, is representing the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe. That’s not at all.

“I dance this for my grandpa who passed away. So, I dance it for him,” Avayah said.

Students here just read a book called Jingle Dancer. Though it’s different from Avayah’s fancy shawl dance, eight-year-old Braxton Coulter says he enjoyed reading the book and today’s performance.

“Really cool and fun to watch and I’m pretty proud of Avayah, because she was practicing for a long time. Just to do it just for us,” Coulter said.

Today is another way these kids are still observing Monday’s Native American Day. Seven-year-old Crew Kemper says it’s important to learn about other cultures.

{09:08:32} “It makes better friends and you have a funner time with each other,” Crew said.

The fancy shawl dance isn’t easy.

“It is a workout. It kind of gets me out of breath. I just have to keep going,” Avayah said.

Each step is perhaps bringing different cultures closer together.

“It was nice for me to tell them about it,” Avayah said.

The fancy shawl dance has become a mainstay of pow-wows. You can attend the Flandreau Powwow this summer. It’s from July 14th through the 16th.

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