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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 1, 2001 - Issue 50


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Hands-on Lessons in Tribe's History

Photo by Khoi Ton/Norwich Bulletin

PLAINFIELD -- The Mohegan Tribe may have a major casino expanding into a local landmark, but some local children learned there's more to tribal members than gambling.
On Thursday, they learned there is a history behind their visibility.

In fact, members of the Plainfield Recreational Day Care class performed a snake dance with Mohegan Tribe members dressed in moccasins and feathered headdresses, with drums beating as classmates and teachers looked on.

The dance was part of a presentation put on by the Mohegan Tribe's Council of Elders Cultural Programs Department and 25 children at the Plainfield Community Service Complex Thursday.

The children, aged 3-5, looked on as Shane "White Raven" Long and Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum told the children old Indian stories, displayed Indian toys and trinkets and played the flute and drums.

Long said, since February, he has made 70 visits to elementary schools, libraries, colleges and high schools to teach people about Mohegan culture.

"There are many different ways of being a human being," Long said. "You should take time to learn about other people."

While all the presentations are free for spectators, tribal members are paid for what they do.

"It's the most important job that I have ever had in my life," Long said.

As part of the presentation, Long and Bozsum showed the kids how Indians used to make dolls and explained how lacrosse, which was created by Indians, was the precursor for many of today's field sports.

During the dancing part of the program, tribal members taught a dozen children the Indian friendship, snake and smoke dances.

Bozsum said a lot of people do not understand Indian culture.

"It's very important to educate," Bozsum said. "A lot of people do not think we have traditions that carry on to this day."

According to Bozsum, while presentations by the tribe have been going on long before the casinos, the Mohegan Sun has helped the cause.

"The money that is generated from the casino goes back into the cultural department," Bozsum said.

Plainfield Recreational Day Care Head Teacher Ana Klawitter said the idea to invite tribal members came from the parent of a child in the program.

Sandy Houser said she wanted to expose the children to the Indian culture with an event letting them participate.

"If you are just going to sit there and lecture, they are not going to grasp it," Houser said. "They need it hands on."

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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