A circle of drummers sang and beat a large drum in the middle of the Shasta Elementary School gym. Dancers, some younger than the students watching and dressed in Native American regalia, took the floor, sharing the flash and fun of contemporary Native American powwow dances.
The dancers, singer and drummers from the Klamath Tribes visited students at Peterson, Shasta and Conger elementary schools Tuesday as part of National Native American Heritage Month.
Will Hess, youth initiative coordinator for the Klamath Tribes Administration, told students at Shasta Elementary School about the three tribes local to this areas – the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin – and explained that they have lived here from “time immemorial” or “time beyond memory.”
Hess says visiting the schools and sharing the native culture is valuable and educational for youth.
“Even today I’ve had people tell me they didn’t know that native people are still around,” he said. “They thought we were just something from the history books. There are a lot of misconceptions. This is a way to educate our community and share parts of our culture.”
There are 565 federally recognized and more than 200 unrecognized tribes in the U.S., he said. Each has its own culture and traditions.
Hess was joined by tribal dancers, the Wocus Nation Bay Singers, who sang and drummed for the dancers; and Laura Schroeder, Miss Klamath Modoc Yahooskin 2018-19, representing the Klamath Tribes 32nd Annual Restoration Celebration Powwow. Many of the dancers are students at Klamath County schools.
In addition to powwow songs and dances, which are shared among the tribes, the students were treated to two traditional Klamath Modoc songs and dances, which are specific just to this area.