For some of the larger schools like Truman and Roosevelt elementaries, Harjo said they will incorporate Chickasaw social dances, as well.
For 8-year-old Reagan Elementary student Nicholas Estes, the experience taught him how to be a little more compassionate toward others.
“That’s important to understand how they feel,” he said on why learning about different cultures is relevant.
Morgan Olsen, 8, said learning about cultures helps her understand diversity and helps her be a better friend.
Laura Stewart, Chickasaw Nation Fine Arts Department director, said the different arts-related projects help young students more easily retain information about culture.
The festivals are relevant to Native American and non-Native students, Stewart said, allowing both to become more culturally aware and sensitive.
“When I used to teach at a rural school, 49 percent were Native American students in the school and I was the art teacher, so I felt it was important to go ahead and bring in projects to help preserve and teach these students,” Stewart said. “They were losing their culture, and this way they were connecting again, getting validation.”
For more information on the Chickasaw Nation, visit chickasaw.net.
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