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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 18, 2003 - Issue 98


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Wakina Sky Students Learn Indian Traditions

by Shawn White Wolf - Helena Independent Record

Sacred HeightsStudents at the Wakina Sky Learning Center are learning about the various aspects of the sacred hoop, which has been a part of American Indian life and history for centuries.

The students over the next nine months will collectively build a representation of a sacred hoop and focus on monthly themes: Balance, Responsibility, Compassion, Humility, Kindness and Generosity, Honesty, Loyalty and Giving and Respect.

But that's not all; while tribal governing philosophies over the past two centuries have primarily focused on dealing with what's been dealt to them, Wakina Sky students will be learning how to holistically plan for their own futures.

The Wakina Sky Learning Center is an after-school program aimed at enhancing the development of enrolled children's social, emotional and academic skills.

So far, the students have learned about taking care of their bodies by exercising, dieting and other aspects of how they live, said Carol Mason, executive director.

In addition, she said, students are learning about their minds – active thoughts, meditation and how thoughts take on a life of their own.

"When the students meditate, their faces scrunch up and they wiggle because it's so hard for them to sit still for five minutes," said Mason.

Cultural activities include learning about the various types of animals that various tribes have historically used to represent tribal philosphies associated with the sacred hoop.

For example, the eagle, which is often thought to be representative of the values of a higher power, is this month's theme animal that goes along with learning about balancing their bodies with exercise, diet, and emotions.

Also along the lines of the cultural activities, on Monday, students started to build a traditional war bonnet headdress worn by Plains tribal warriors or leaders.

"The students elect a new tribal leader every week, and the winner will get to wear the headdress after it's completed," said Mason.

Part of the process, Mason said, will be for the students to learn how to self-govern, creating rules, electing tribal leaders, and managing money.

Already, she said, students have voted on about 10 rules that they have agreed to follow, which include listening, respecting, putting things away, sharing, and being nice to each other.

In addition, the Wakina Store will be open on the last Friday of every month. The Wakina Store provides an opportunity to educate students about money management throughout the month. Students earn money, budget money, save money, and then get to purchase toys and items at the end of the month with their remaining funds.

The sacred hoop project will end next June with a dinner party and awards banquet.

Five categories of awards will be given to students, who earn the recognition. In each category, students will be allowed to vote for their peers.

In addition, $50 will go to whoever earns a Scholarship, Leadership, and Artistic Ability Awards. For Best Behavior and Most Perfect Attendance Awards, $40 will accompany these awards.

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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, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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