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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 12, 2003 - Issue 91


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Area Indian Parents Pass Along Traditions

by Shawn White Wolf Helena Independent Record Staff Writer

In addition, the parents are hoping that their children will get to know each other so they can learn to rely on each other's support throughout their lives.

"Destination Culture" is the name they chose for their new community group.

"We are teaching them how to make their regalia, language, dancing, drumming, and singing," said "C" (Cecilia) Orlowski, one of the parents involved.

The youths are using their learned skills to be of service to Helena and its surrounding communities.

Louise Ogemageshig Fisher, former Wakina Sky director, holds a position as the cultural director.

Last Friday afternoon, several of the students provided a public demonstration at Memorial Park.

Although public attendance was small, the sounds of the singers and drummers echoed all around the park and into the packed swimming pool.

The group also helped to organize two mini-pow wows in East Helena earlier this year, according to Orlowski.

The public performances, she said, have provided the students with the opportunity to practice their traditional styles of dances, including the Grass Dance, traditional men's or women's dances and Jingle Dress.

According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 1,300 American Indians in Helena. Of them, fewer than 150 were students in Helena's public schools. Like the rest of Montana, American Indian students in Helena's public schools face high drop-out rates.

"We are doing this so kids can socialize and be there for each other," said Orlowski.

Helena's American Indian drum group, Magpie Singers, assisted the youths by showing up to sing and drum traditional tunes while they practiced their traditional dances.

Destination Culture organizers said that anyone is invited to become a part of their group. In addition, organizers said the youths obtain a great deal of experience every time they are able to perform for anyone.

Tina Rush, director of the Young Circle Keepers Society at the Helena Indian Alliance, helped coordinate Friday's event.

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