Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 5, 2001 - Issue 35



Scott Elementary Remembers Student Through Cultural Event


By Nicole Coate Staff Writer Naperville Sun


art: Fancy Dancer by John Nieto

Naperville, IL - A hushed crowd of watery eyes sat motionless as the notes of an ancient healing song echoed through the Scott Elementary School gymnasium.

"We don't just dance for ourselves, we dance for those who aren't here with us," Larry Lockwood, member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, explained to the audience.

The cross-cultural event was in honor of Matthew Voss, an 8-year-old third-grader who died suddenly this past fall. In memory of their only child, Rick and Diane Voss established the Matthew Voss Foundation to sponsor programs that will enrich children's lives.

Last week, the foundation brought in Northern Cheyenne Fancy War Dancer and cultural instructor Lockwood for two assemblies on Native American heritage and tradition.

"Matthew had a tremendous interest in Native American culture," Assistant Principal Sherry Krzyzanski said.

The event was planned as a way to share Matthew's interest with other children.

"This is a wonderful way to expose kids to the Native American culture," Rick Voss said.

The Vosses, who often took Matthew to Native American functions, saw Lockwood perform this winter and arranged for an assembly at Scott.

"One of the things that many people remember about Matthew is that he was a very curious person," Principal Carol McGuff told the children. "This is a chance to learn about one of the things that Matt was curious about."

Through storytelling, dancing and singing, Lockwood gave many of the students their first real-life view of his culture, along with some life lessons.

Lockwood's stories used humor and action to relate basic moral themes.

"I learned to be brave and never give up what you believe," third-grader Tyler Parker said.

An elaborate display of feathers, fur, bells and beads, Lockwood explained that his traditional clothing was not a costume but dance regalia. The yellow is the color of the Northern Cheyenne, or "Morning Star People." The pinwheel design on his headband is a symbol of his family's name, Little Whirlwind.

The children began to see more than Lockwood's mysterious appearance and foreign song.

"He's a lot like us," fifth-grader Jenny Nelson said.

Her classmate Grant Bishop agreed.

"He sings and dances, but he still goes to the supermarket."

At the center of the performance stood Little Wolf, a grandfather drum. Accompanied by the deep boom of the drum, Lockwood explained that Little Wolf welcomes all people, no matter their color or heritage.

"(The assembly) was a wonderful gift," McGuff said. "All the children have walked away with a broader understanding of a different culture."

"This is a really good example of the very thing that their son, Matthew, enjoyed," Lockwood said.

Lockwood told the students that Native Americans have a song for everything praying, giving thanks and remembering. He shared an old-time healing song, once sang for the Cheyenne who had fallen at the Battle of Little Bighorn. This time, Lockwood sang for the healing of classmates, teachers and family of Matthew Voss.

Northern Cheyenne Tribe




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