Students witness cultural diversity in dance

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 15, 2000

Features Editor

March 14, 2000 10 PM

Native American dances and regalia held students at Banks Schools spellbound Monday as the culture of the Omaha Lakota came to life right before their eyes.

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Gary Cady brought his program of Native American art and dance to Banks and the students came away knowing more about the Native American culture than ever before and with a greater appreciation of those who first occupied the land we call America.

Cady shared some of the traditions and culture of the Native Americans with the students, performed three dances and demonstrated the Indian instrument of music – the cedar or river flute.

Cady’s regalia was that of the Northern Plains tribes and the eagle feather headdress he wore was passed down to him by a veteran tribesman.

"I had to earn the right to wear these feathers," Cady said, emphasizing that Native Americans place great value on earned rights.

He demonstrated three dances – traditional, crow hop and sneakup.

"The traditional dances are often done to honor loved ones and veterans," Cady said. "They are prayer dances and stories of great feats. The crow hop is a dance of thanks and the sneakup had its basis in the story of a tribal elder who was kidnapped and the

warriors had to sneak up on the camp to rescue him."

The students seemed puzzled when Cady told them there was no such thing as a war dance.

"In the movies, you’ve seen war dances with whooping and hollering," Cady said. "Well, that’s a Hollywood thing – something Hollywood has done to stereotype the Indian people. There was no war dance. There were dances that told the stories of the battles and of heroics of the warriors and to honor those who did not come back. But, there were no dances to incite war."

Cady said many of the dances of the Native Americans were spiritual.

"If you will notice, the dancers will look up – searching – in the physical and spiritual world."

The students were fascinated by the beautiful music of the wind flute and the simplicity of its design.

Cady had a display of Native American art that included, bead work, bone and buffalo horn jewelry, stone carvings, flutes, sculptures, stone carved pipes, horse hair and feather art, shields, handmade moccasins and Apache boots.

Jackie Hall, principal of Banks Schools, said the students at both the primary and middle schools were most impressed with Cady.

"He was entertaining and informative," Hall said. "In talking with our teachers, they said the students got a lot out of his presentation. Some of them had covered some of the material he spoke about and others will cover it later in the year."

Hall said it was important to have someone come into the school and talk to the students about cultural diversity.

"We talk to our students about cultural diversity but having someone from the outside come in and bring that message and give examples was very meaningful," he said. "It was an outstanding program."

The program was sponsored by the Pike County Board of Education Indian Program.