Each of the students who attended Monday’s activities participates in the Richmond County Schools Indian Education Program.
This year’s performers came by way of the Lumbee Tribe. John Oxendine serves as the Cultural Enrichment Coordinator for the Lumbee Tribe and led middle and high school students through dance lessons.
“We love having the opportunity to share the Lumbee heritage with Native American students,” Oxendine said. “They saw several traditional dances, and had the opportunity to make a craft that they can take home.”
Students watched performances and some took part in a special dance workshop, in which they learned the moves and then performed in front of their peers.
Elementary school students had the opportunity to listen to storyteller Barbara Locklear from Charlotte.
Throughout the school year American Indian students participate in activities to enhance their educational experiences, but a special focus in placed on November because it is Native American Heritage month.
The Richmond County Schools Indian Education program is federally funded, and provides a support system for Native American students. The program ensures that students of American Indian descent are able stay in touch with their heritage and culture.
“It is our mission to provide educational leadership and services which promote equal educational opportunities, quality practices and programs that enable Richmond County Native American students to become fully productive members of society,” Billie Allen, Indian Education specialist for grades K-5, said.
During Native American Heritage month, the students participate in a number of special events.
Tina Bass, Indian Education specialist for grades six-12, stressed the importance of the Native American heritage month, and the need to raise awareness about Native American culture and history.
“What began at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the First Americans made to the establishment and growth of the United States has resulted in the month of November being designated for that purpose. It’s so important that we share these experiences with our students,” Bass said.
Through Native American clubs and other programs, students in the Indian Education program have the opportunity to interact with their peers, and supplement what their learning in the classroom with information about their heritage and culture.
“The Indian Education program is a team effort. The support of the parents, school, and community is what makes the program a success. We firmly believe that with love, support, communication and dedication these students will succeed.” Bass said.