With energetic sounds of Native American song and rhythmic dancing feet, Jackie Bird showed the students in the Flandreau School District a traditional hoop dance.
While the dance uses symbols of elements and directions to connect with the earth, Bird made a connection with the students while wearing traditional regalia and working with colored hoops.
“The symbol of the hoop dance is all nations working together for unity, world peace and global healing,” she said.
Bird, from Bushnell and a Flandreau Indian School graduate, shared her Native American heritage through dance and music with students in kindergarten through 12th grade on Friday. She was invited by the school’s First Nations Club, which organized the event, and was sponsored through a grant from the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe.
In one song, she told the story of the Dakota woman standing brave. In another, sung by her son Gordon Bird II of Flandreau, she shared a song she wrote about leftover food shared with all. Her daughter Randi Bird and granddaughter Rayanna Bird, 11, also danced at the event.
Jackie Bird said she wants to inspire students to use their gifts. “I give all that I am in life to bring great messages. Whatever their gift is, it’s inspirational,” she said.
Student Jevan Moran helped Bird with her hoop dance, using green hoops to symbolize a hawk. Soon friends Taryn Ukestine and David Allen joined him as they ran around the hoop dancing in the role of birds.
Diego Serrano, a junior and member of the First Nations Club, said he liked how Bird’s dancing provided a role model and showed artistry through dance. “It will bring more awareness to kids about Native American culture,” he said.
Trinity Redday, a sophomore and a fancy shawl dancer, said she helped work on the program as part of the First Nations Club, a group of about 25 students. The group also provided samples of fry bread and wojapi, a berry sauce, to all students in the school as part of the heritage week and also sponsored a coloring contest and wore ribbon skirts to school for one day.
“I like that it showed other people that are not Native American, our culture and our ways and our celebrations,” she said. “I think they really enjoyed it.”