Reuben Crowfeather of Standing Rock Sioux Nation performs Wednesday at Sibley Elementary School. --Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune
Reuben Crowfeather of Standing Rock Sioux Nation performs Wednesday at Sibley Elementary School. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Sibley Elementary students witness Native American dancers

Published 9:48am Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sibley Elementary School students got a taste of a culture — combined with some physical activity — on Wednesday during an assembly at the school.

Teaching about the background of Native Americans, Larry Yazzie and the Native Pride Dancers performed in the school gym, wearing tribal clothing with intricate beadwork and other regalia.

  Reuben Crowfeather of Prior Lake, right, laughs as some of the male teachers at Sibley Elementary practice some of the dances that Larry Yazzie and the Native Pride Dancers presented Wednesday. --Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune
Reuben Crowfeather of Prior Lake, right, laughs as some of the male teachers at Sibley Elementary practice some of the dances that Larry Yazzie and the Native Pride Dancers presented Wednesday. –Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

“We like to teach you who we are to create an understanding and have respect for each other,” said Christal Moose, manager of the group.

Moose said the group hopes to inspire, educate and motivate through music and dance.

She said the dancers come from all over the country and Canada and have traveled all over the world by invitation of the U.S. Embassy — last year they went to Jordan — promoting an understanding of Native American culture.

They have performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and can customize their presentations based on issues of concern in the area such as bullying or racism, she said.

On Wednesday the dancers performing were Yazzie, of the Meskwaki tribe, Reuben Crowfeather, of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and Mikayla Schaaf of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Blackfeet and Wichita tribes.

The visit was paid for through a grant from the Perpich Center for Arts Education to incorporate art and culture into the classroom, said Jane Hanson, physical education teacher.

The group showed the students multiple dances, first explaining the origin behind each. At one point, the students — and the teachers — even got to try their own hand at the dances.

“I liked their costumes, and I liked the dance and music,” said Jesse Baltazar, 9.

At the end of the assembly, students asked questions of the performers such as how long it takes to get dressed in their clothing and how long it took to make those outfits.

The group said there are 565 federally recognized tribes.