WMS 7th graders celebrate Native American Day

Photos and Story by Joanne Kyle

Native American Day, an annual integrated enrichment event for 7th graders, was held on Tuesday, September 18 at Whitewater Middle School. Community members and area presenters were invited into our school and helped students learn about Native American culture and values. Students learned how Native American families are different and yet in other ways the same as their own families.

This year’s presenters included:

Mark Denning from Muskego – The head dancer and leader of the Oneida Dancers, Mark Denning has devoted himself to changing stereotypes of Native Americans. He spoke to the students about how culture and music are always interrelated and demonstrated the power of traditional dance to reflect native culture. Born in a small village on the Menominee Reservation in northern Wisconsin, Mark Denning has been a traditional Native American dancer since the age of 17. He also serves as director of Southeast Oneida Tribal Services.

Genevieve Ebert from Waukesha – Genevieve is a lifelong trapper and has the largest collection of fur-bearing wild animals in the state of Wisconsin. Students were allowed a hands-on opportunity to check out the huge variety of animals as they listened to interesting stories about her hunting and trapping experiences.

Terry Ames from Elkhorn – Terry shared his knowledge of flintknapping and demonstrated how to make arrowheads and other primitive tools out of stone. Students learned how to hunt for old arrowheads when out walking in nature and of their importance and value.

Robin Buckley from Fox Point – Robin is the Director/Owner at Hot4Lax Lacrosse specialty store located in Waukesha and a director/coach for many Southern WI youth lacrosse leagues. Lacrosse is sometimes referred to as the “original sport”. Students learned about the game of lacrosse and its Native American origins and purpose. They then had great fun learning techniques and playing the game which has few rules and no boundaries.

Marion and Ron Courtney from Cape Coral, FL – This couple traveled a long distance to help our students learn and understand about fashion on the prairie. Dressed in native “dress” clothing, students learned how that differed from “work” clothing and how the clothing was simply stitched and held together from animal hides. Students learned about the accessories that were necessary to always be carried with them. A classroom was transformed to replicate the inside of a teepee with buffalo skin rugs and willow chairs for students to relax on as they learned.

Bill Sydow from Whitewater – Bill Sydow is a former WMS 7th grade teacher that is now retired. He taught students about different types of Native American food dishes and students were able to taste test several of them including salmon, venison, wild boar, dried turkey, beans, wild rice,“three sister”soup, dried fruits and nuts/seeds, fry bread, corn bread, and maple syrup. A special thank you goes out to Rochelle Ahrens (another retired WMS 7th grade teacher) for helping Bill, and also to Cathy Luebke, Lorie Radke, and Marge Watson (all retired WUSD food service workers) for helping to make the fry bread.

A BIG THANK-YOU to the Middle School PTO for a generous donation to help make this event happen! We are grateful!

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