OKLAHOMA CITY – He counts every large bead he picks up and threads, splashing his hand down into a container full of beads each time he needs a new one.
“Look mommy, I’m almost done,” he shouts, while stretching his arm up as high as he can in order to lift up his work.
When he’s done, 4-year-old Payton Attocknie will have made his first bandolier, an essential piece of regalia for gourd dancing. He’s learning about the Gourd Dance during monthly Cultural Nights with the Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) Native American Student Services (NASS) program.
Native American students who participate in Cultural Nights can choose classes on arts and crafts, Choctaw language, fancy shawl dance, fancy dance, gourd dance, or a girls mentoring program called the Ervhv Society.
Attocknie, Comanche, and nine other students selected the gourd dance class and now form the Youth Gourd Dance Society. This is the first year for the society and the group all entered the arena together at the OKCPS NASS 8th annual Contest Powwow on Nov. 22, at U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City.
The Twelve Days of Native Christmas, featured on our December cover, is an animated short film written and directed by Gary Robinson (Choctaw/Cherokee) with illustrations by Jesse T. Hummingbird (Cherokee). The whole family will enjoy this whimsical adaptation of the timeless classic yuletide song The Twelve Days of Christmas adapted to a Native American perspective and illustrated by one of America’s great Indian artists. Twelve different Native American groups are represented in the lyrics and images of this fanciful animated short film. The video is available at www.visionmaker.org. Image courtesy of Gary Robinson, Jesse T. Hummingbird, Tribal Eye Productions, and Vision Maker Media.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation will “Light Up the Christmas Season” when the Christmas lights are turned on in the Cherokee National Capitol Square in December. A dinner theatre presentation by Sequoyah performing arts students and a Christmas open house at the tribal complex are just some of the events being held. Calendar items are as follows:
PAWNEE – In the town of Pawnee, it’s not usual to still see children riding their bikes around the small central Oklahoma town. Many of them have Al Thayer and his friends to thank.
For the last 10 years, Thayer (Pawnee and Shoshone) has carried on an annual Christmas party for the children of the community of around 2,200. Children receive a bag filled with old-fashioned sweets, oranges, apples and other goodies. Some also get a bicycle to put under the Christmas tree.
“It started out, I had a friend who had a toy run for the area,” Thayer said.
After moving to Pawnee 12 years ago, Thayer became friends with the late couple Carl “Buffalo” Stringfellow Jr. and Cindy Stringfellow. The Stringfellows helped organize the Cimarron Valley Toy Run for Pawnee County DHS 27 years ago to give toys to children in foster care and under court guardianship. Like the Stringfellows, Thayer shared a love of motorcycles and riding the open road with friends. He’ll be the first to tell you of the generosity of bikers.
“It seems like if someone can’t work or can’t support their family, the guys get together to help,” he said. “Bikers have always been that way for each other.”
That generosity extends to children who may not have a present for Christmas. The area, largely rural, has known hard times, and recent years have been especially trying locally as well as nationally.
This group of bikers raised money and collected toys through the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys 4 Tots program and gave them out as presents to needy children of the area. In 2004, the Cimarron Valley Toy Run held a 50/50 drawing – participants purchased tickets with the chance of winning half of the total amount collected by the sale. The other half would go to a charity. That year, funds were entrusted to Thayer who purchased 17 bicycles for children in low-income families.
Bedré Chocolate 37 N Colbert Rd Davis, OK 73030 Toll Free: 800-367-5390 Bedre is an American Indian company that produces fine chocolate in the heart of Oklahoma. This manufacturing facility is owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation. Bedre offers temptations to satisfy any sweet tooth, including gourmet chocolates, gift baskets and other traditional candies. While on site, guests may step into the viewing gallery and see chocolate being made before their eyes. Chocolate is produced and packaged Monday through Friday, 9am-3pm. If your group consist of more than eight guests, an appointment is required.
Bison Bison – The Buffalo Store 129 E Main Pawhuska, OK 74056 Phone: 918-287-3510 Native American owned and operated, we specialize in American Bison products: meat, jerky, skulls and robes. We also offer souvenirs featuring the bison including home decorating items, jewelry featuring the bison and jewelry made from bison. We have authentic Osage arts and crafts, many featuring the bison.