Canku Ota


(Many Paths)


An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 13, 2001 - Issue 27



Rosebud Drummers Aiming for Inauguration


by Sam Kean for The Argus Leader


© logo copyrighted Rosebud Sioux Tribe All Rights Reserved 1998 ~ 2000

President-elect George W. Bush has invited the Rosebud Elementary School drum group to represent South Dakota at the inauguration celebration Jan. 20.

Now $5,000 in fund raising stands between 20 Rosebud fourth- and fifth-graders and the rare opportunity.

The members of the drum group learned about Inauguration Day in September while studying the Constitution.

Although students knew it was a long shot, they sent letters to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, asking to march, sing and dance in the inauguration parade, regardless of who won the presidential election.

"I said we wanted to represent our culture and state," fifth-grader Frankie Valandra said this week about his page-long letter.

While in Washington, Valandra wants to see the White House, the Capitol rotunda and to hear the oath of office.

To get Daschle's attention, the students decorated their white envelopes with drawings of star quilts, tepees and horses.

It worked.

Daschle forwarded the letters to the presidential inaugural committee, along with his own letter explaining how both the children and the country would benefit.

The committee agreed. They invited the drum group to be among the 10,000 participants in the inauguration.

Children returned from Christmas break Monday, months after they thought they had been forgotten. Their teacher, Chris Mosner, was waiting with good news, and a handful of permission slips to attend Inauguration Day.

"This is a big step for most of these kids," many of whom might never travel more than 200 miles from home again, Mosner said.

Mosner directs and participates in drum songs, which the class practices every morning. He will chaperone the children in Washington but won't participate in the inauguration. It's the children's time, he says, not his.

The group's tribal drums, male and female singers and dancers will be featured in the parade. Members will sing 10 songs honoring veterans and one victory song, all in Lakota. Most of the songs were written after the world wars and are intended to honor both the United States and Lakota nations and flags, Mosner said.

"You're getting a piece of (the soldiers') soul in your heart," fifth-grader Brittany Gunhammer said of the patriotic songs.

The group plans to arrive in Washington on Jan. 17th, attend meetings all day Jan. 18, and visit historical sights Jan. 21.

Gunhammer has a personal wish to fulfill in Washington: "To teach new President Bush some Lakota, if he wanted to."

Transporting 20 children from the Rosebud Indian Reservation school to a lavish presidential party won't be easy.

The Todd County School District will pay for part of the trip, including plane fare. But Mosner estimates the group needs $5,000 more for meals, lodging and momentos for the children.

To raise money, the group is asking each child's "tiospaye," or extended family, to help.

"Tiospayes" have as many as 100 members. Securing a few dollars from each relative would cover costs and allow the group to "do as much as we can on our own without outside resources," said Mosner.

The school also has begun a radio telethon featuring drum music. Group members plan to ask area businesses for contributions and do "kid things" such as bake sales.

Uncertain finances have not calmed the excitement rippling through the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Mosner won't even consider falling short.

"We're just going to make it. We know we will," he said with a sigh.

If necessary, the group will cut back on souvenirs, "but getting there," he said, "is the most important thing."

Time is of the essence. There is a Western Union office in Valentine, NE
which is only about half an hour away from Rosebud. Please help these kids
make the journey.

Western Union
Tel: (402) 376 1302 Monday 800 - 1800
Tuesday 800 - 1800
Wednesday 800 - 1800
Thursday 800 - 1800
Friday 800 - 1800
Saturday 800 - 1800

Rosebud Elementary School 605-747-2411
310 Spotted Tail Ln
Rosebud, SD

Chris Mosner email


Rosebud Elementary




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