Wellpinit brings children and heritage together

By K.S. Brooks

It was the Friday before spring break, but kids at Wellpinit Elementary School weren’t excited about their vacation. They were jazzed up because the school’s mini pow wow was about to begin.

As the halls filled with students from grades kindergarten through five, the sounds of bells and jingle dresses rang joyfully. Bright greens, blues, and oranges drew the eye to stunning regalia on little ones who fidgeted without a word while waiting in line to enter the gymnasium.

About a dozen adults, including elders and drummers, came to the school to share tribal culture with the students. Self-managing students were honored with their own dance, as were several women who dedicate many volunteer hours each year to the school, including Spokane Tribal Chairwoman Carol Evans.

Everyone danced for nearly two hours – regalia or not. For some dances, teachers and family members joined their students, and joviality reigned supreme. Of the four drum circles, two were made up of fifth graders – and one of those was all girls. When the drumming group Bad Canyon played, the students gathered round three and four deep with intense fascination, studying and reveling in the songs that had been handed down through the generations. “Drumming helps us through the challenges. We have songs for everything. It’s part of our culture from the beginning of time. Singing and dancing is good medicine,” one of the elders told the children.

Second grader Charles Garcia said that his favorite part was the dancing, and that he wants to learn drumming next year. “It’s important for our relatives,” he said with conviction and enthusiasm. All the children agreed that dancing was the highlight and that they enjoyed it very much. One second grade girl said it was nice to dance, that she liked the music because it reminded her of “back in the time.”

This was only the second year for the Wellpinit “Spring Break Pow Wow,” and hopefully there will be many more to come. You can follow the Wellpinit Elementary School on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WellpinitElementarySchool/.

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K. S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist and photographer, author of over 30 titles, and executive director of Indies Unlimited, which was touted in Publishers Weekly as one of the top six blogs for authors. An adjunct instructor for the Community Colleges of Spokane, she currently teaches writing and self-publishing. Ms. Brooks is chief copy editor and photojournalist for a number of Stevens County, Washington newspapers. More at http://ksbrooks.com