MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 16, 2013

HOPE club brings Native dance to Whittier

By E.I. Hillin
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Whittier Elementary School students had fun Friday as they learned about Native American culture from a special group.

The HOPE club dance group from Sequoyah High School performed at Whittier. It was the group’s second performance of the day celebrating Native American Heritage month.

The HOPE club is driven by one purpose, Honoring Our People’s Existence. The group consists of Meekah Roy, 16, Mikah Whitecloud, 16, Nicollette Littlecook, 15, Lacy Christie, 18 and Sawwana Smith, 17, the HOPE club princess.

“I am not nervous, this is something we do all the time,” said Smith.

The group honors their heritage by passing on their cultural knowledge to a younger generation.

“Elementary students are still forming opinions, attitudes and beliefs,” said Tonya Soap, co-sponsor. “We are helping to show an accurate portrayal and broaden the understanding of Native Americans.”

Dancing out before the eager crowd of first- through fifth-grade students, Smith began the performance in the school’s gym.  

They danced to the beat of tribal drums and traditional Native American chants while the elementary students watched with excitement.

The group represents many different tribes such as Cherokee, Navajo, Omaha, Choctaw, Tonka, Cherokee, Creek, Cheyenne, Seminole, Sioux and Arapaho. Their performances reflect the variety of song and dance demonstrations.

 Elementary students enjoyed the group’s colorful traditional clothing, from the headdresses to the feathers. The kids were drawn to the drum circle led by Christie.

Each member of the group demonstrated a tribal dance with each class, beginning with the kindergartners.

Every student had a chance to participate with the HOPE group. The elementary students laughed and smiled as they danced along with the beat of the drum.   

 Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or ehillin@muskogeephoenix.com.