LES Students provided live
By Stacy Bender
Above: LES students gathered for a special performance on Thursday, April 22, on the steps of the school amphitheater.
Rod First Strike of Polson
performs the men’s Prairie
Chicken Dance in full regalia.
Zane Whiteman, offers an inquiry during a
designated Q&A session following the performance.
Justus Cree, Sr. has
traveled the world to share his native culture with students and
others. Working with that network he has built over the years, he is grateful to draw upon others who are willing to join him in further educating generation upon generation.
Liberty Cree performs the Circle of Life. The buckskin and beading she wore was crafted by her grandmother over the course of two years and weighs approximately 60 lbs.
All Photos by Stacy Bender
Above: Crystal Little Own of Ronan performs a Jingle Dress Dance for students at Libby Elementary School.
Right: Justus Cree, Jr. opens the floor for the day’s immersion experience with a traditional Grass Dance
Libby Elementary Students were paid a unique and educational visit on Earth day—Thursday, April 22. Members of various tribes from Bonners Ferry to the Mission Valley joined students outdoors at the school amphitheater to share some of the traditional songs and dance might find if attending a pow-wow.
Dressed in full regalia, Justus Cree of Bonners Ferry narrated the experience, carrying students through an explanation of each performance and its meaning.
“It’s important to note,” shared Cree when
describing their clothing. “This is not a costume. A costume is what you wear at Halloween when you want to be something else for one day. But this is our regalia. It represents who we are every day, it is an important part of our heritage.”
Students at the elementary school hung on every word and story Justus shared with them during the
hour-long performance. Some recognized Justus, Jr., from spirited competition on the football field at LES this past fall. “We’re just like you. We live in houses not teepees, we play sports. But we also choose to keep our rich heritage alive,” Cree said.
When reached for comment following the
appearance, Cree shared that he was truly touched by all of the Libby students he encountered. Though the stand-out moment of the day was when LHS
Seniors were given the choice to excuse themselves from the performance, but not one student left.
“We spoke about balancing life – home, education, tradition – we spoke about striving to keep making the world amazing every day,” Cree recalled. “It was special. Really special.”