Tot chicken dancer Micalee Gardipe, age 2, showcases the outfit
his mother made him. Gardipe attends Head Start's Growing
Words Immersion school.
RONAN, MT Little moccasins stomped to the beat of the
drum during the 41st annual Head Start Powwow. Families were treated
to music, dancing, and an Indian taco feed at the Ronan Event Center.
"Our goal is to celebrate the children," said Early Childhood Services'
Cultural Coordinator Myrna Dumontier. "It's their powwow."
"We Are Grateful" was the theme of this year's powwow. "We are
grateful for the healing that comes in being unified, striving for
health and wellness," Dumontier said. "Our families growing stronger
and our elders being honored and respected."
Each year, the Head Start Powwow honors local tribal elders.
Geri Owen and Karen "Kapi" Coffey were selected for their years
of constructing hundreds of pairs of moccasins for Head Start students.
"These women have been so dedicated in their contributions over
the years," Dumontier said. "They believed in children and wanted
to provide for them by their endless sewing of traditional clothing.
These are used in the classroom as kids learn cultural life ways."
The powwow is an extension of Early Childhood Services' (ECS)
concentrated efforts to bring tribal culture into the classroom.
Aside from hiring tribal language instructors, Dumontier said the
program invites powwow dancers, singers and crafters to guest teach
Two years ago, ECS began hosting weekly cultural circles for
each community on the Flathead Reservation, where families could
learn to sew and craft regalia. Dumontier said the results of the
cultural circles were on display at the powwow. "What made this
year unique was seeing that more families got involved in creating
regalia for themselves," she said. "There were more families dancing
Dumontier said she hopes those who attended the annual Head
Start Powwow were left with a deeper understanding of its meaning.
"The powwow allows us to celebrate our beautiful land, culture and
values," she said. "The drum brings us to one heartbeat. Just like
a mother holding her baby and their hearts unify. We hope our celebration
Start language teacher Mali Matt (right) is joined by
her partner Joe Santos (left) in teaching a student
(center) to dance.
language and culture instructor Eva Boyd enjoys the
powwow with Head Start Cultural Coordinator Myrna Dumontier.