Family Sunday - Native American Heritage Month

November 8, 2009

Some of the individuals who contributed to the success of the event, from L to R:  Carol IronBear, Mylo IronBear (in red ribbon vest), Andrea Montoya (in blue regalia), Saginaw Grant (wearing braids), James Castillo (in black hat), Jeanette Castillo, and Bill Neal Elk Whistle.  Seated in front:  Lani Grant and Harrison Lowe.  Standing in back:  Jaisey Bates Simard (MOT Staff) and Tim Sampson.

Bill Neal Elk Whistle shares Native American flute music with young Museum visitors.

Harrison Lowe shares Native American Creation stories with Museum visitors.

Andrea Montoya demonstrates Fancyshawl dancing, a type
of powwow dancing, and teaches Museum visitors a step.

On November 8th the Museum of Tolerance Family Sunday program honored Native American Heritage Month with Native American traditional music, powwow dancing, storytellers, crafts, short films by Native Americans and other activities and performances.  Approximately 1,000 visitors to the Museum enjoyed the Family Sunday program.

Mylo IronBear welcomed MOT visitors to the Family Sunday program during his “Laughter is Good Medicine” program.  Bill Neal Elk Whistle shared Native American flute music and stories, playing the plains-style cedar flutes of the Lakota, Kiowa, and Comanche Nations and the river cane flutes of the Choctaw and Cherokee.  Harrison Lowe captivated audiences of all ages with his animated performance of Native American traditional Creation stories, in English and Navajo.  Andrea Montoya danced Fancyshawl, a type of powwow dance, and Museum visitors joined her in powwow dances such as a Round Dance where each dancer goes around the circle of dancers and shakes their hand.

Visitors warmly received the staged reading from Serra Springs, a new children’s musical by Larissa FastHorse and Brian Joseph.  The actors included Rayanna Zaragoza, Anthony Lipe-Ladenheim, Jessica Markovitz and Mylo IronBear.  The play is set in Kuruvungna (Serra) Springs, West Los Angeles, and involves an activist, 14-year old, part-Tongva girl attempting to thwart real estate development on Tongva land.

Survivor Speaker Saginaw Grant shared with a capacity audience how his traditional upbringing as a member of the Sac-n-Fox, Iowa and Otoe-Missouria Nations enabled him to survive Government boarding school for Native Americans and other adversities.  “The drum is the heart of my people, and as long as the drum beats there will always be my people.” Bill Neal Elk Whistle accompanied Saginaw Grant’s words with traditional flute music.

A festival of Native American films included short films and documentaries from the Los Angeles Skins Festival, the Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program, Tâpwê Production Projects and the Southern California Indian Center’s Creative Spirit Script-to-Screen Initiative.

Special activities invited visitors to create their own buffalo skin winter counts and their own Creation storybooks.

Special thanks to MOT Staff, Liebe Geft (Museum Director), Jaisey Bates Simard (Executive Assistant to Museum Director), Nora Webber (Museum Manager), Jessica Markovitz (Youth Education Assistant), Jessica Youngkin, Marisa Takenaka and Arianna De Goede (Museum Special Projects Assistants).  Gratitude also to Tim Sampson, James and Jeanette Castillo, Carol IronBear, Lani Grant and others who supported the program and shared their cultures with Museum visitors.

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