To honor the local Native American culture, Battle Rock Charter School students held an Indigenous Peoples Day celebration Monday.
The event featured Native American meals, stick games and storytelling. At the Cortez Cultural Center, traditional songs and dances were performed by the Wagner family of Ute Mountain Ute and Blackfeet descent.
“I think we are the only school in the district that was in session today,” said Battle Rock teacher Moqui Mustain-Fury. “A lot of our students are Ute and Navajo, and it is important to recognize the perspective of our Native American community.”
Rather than celebrate Columbus Day to signify the early European exploration of the Americas, tribes celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day.
“We have been here for many thousands of years, and so take time this weekend to honor our culture and families with Indigenous Day,” Manuel Heart, newly elected Ute Mountain Ute tribal chairman, told a crowd gathered at an election in Towoac.
On Monday, Battle Rock students ate traditional blue corn mush and Navajo tacos, played stick games and participated in a dance on the plaza of the Cortez Cultural Center.
Students Xani and Sikimiohktopi Wagner performed the Old Style Jingle Dance and Prairie Chicken Dance in traditional regalia on the plaza. All the children joined in for a Round Dance and asked the dancers questions.
“These are not costumes, that is for Halloween,” Snow Wagner told the students. These regalia are traditional wear for our tribes.”
“The dress and shoes are handmade,” Xani added. The family participates in different powwows throughout the year.