Powwows and Hand Sanitizer: Native Hope Meets Needs in Indian Country

Oct 4, 2019 | Native Hope

As we move into fall, Native Hope has been hard at work on projects in our local South Dakota community. In addition to our recent successful campaign to raise money for a baseball field for Native children, we've been helping meet other concrete needs in our local schools, needs for supplies and needs for volunteers.

Face Painting for the Fall Powwow

There is always something magical about spending time with kids, and each fall we look forward to joining our partner, St. Joseph's Indian School, during their annual powwow to assist with face painting.

The tradition of the powwow is a vivid celebration filled with color, music, and laughter. "Powwow" is the English version of the Indian word pau-wau, which originally stood for a healing ceremony conducted by the spiritual or religious leaders of various tribes.

As traditions evolved throughout the generations, these ceremonies became a time to celebrate a rewarding hunt, to give gratitude to the spirits for a bountiful harvest, and to spiritually prepare a warrior for battle. For many Native Americans struggling to live in the contemporary world and still remain true to their heritage, a powwow is a demonstrative symbol, exemplifying the strength and vitality of their legacy.

At St. Joseph's Annual Powwow, children get ready in the skating room on the school’s campus, and the room fills with the joyous sounds of children laughing, dresses jingling, and feathers rustling. Before the powwow, a group of us gather to add the special touch to the regalia with face paint. This year, bear paws, claw marks, and MMIW symbols were popular. The dancers took great pride in choosing their paint.

FacePaintTraditionally, face painting holds special significance for each person. In the past paint was worn as a form of protection, membership, or mourning. Often, it was only the medicine man who could apply the paint to a warrior’s face or body—a prayer often accompanied.

While the face painting at the St. Joseph's Indian School powwow is less ceremonial, the tradition of choosing the paint colors and design is kept alive, and Native Hope appreciates the opportunity to take part.

Hand Sanitizer and School Supplies for Local Schools

b-1August and September mean kids and parents are scrambling to line up school supplies. Each year we like to partner with organizations or schools to provide materials to students and teachers who might need an extra boost.

When it comes to education, especially education for Native children on reservations, every bit of help goes a long way to increasing their chances of life-long happiness and success. Education changes lives, and Native Hope is always looking for ways to encourage children to stay in school and to invest in their futures.   

This year we received two requests for assistance:  

  • Crow Creek Tribal School held their annual Back to School Bash and asked Native Hope to have a presence at the fun-filled eventThere, we gave away 35 backpacks filled with school supplies to the first 35 children in attendanceParents and students were pleased to receive these important items for school.   
  • Lower Brule Elementary School expressed a need for disinfecting supplies for classrooms. The school had already experienced a large number of students missing classes because of strep throat, colds, stomach viruses, and other illnesses. We gave them a substantial supply of disinfecting wipes, tissues, and hand sanitizer for each classroom. We hope this helps eliminate germs and keeps the sickness rate down. Classrooms should be germ-free and healthy learning environments. 

These may seem like simple gifts for our local schools, but it is important for students to feel prepared for class and for schools to be able to guard against preventable illnesses.  

You help us make these outreach opportunities possible. Each of you contributed to the many smiles and thank you’s we have received! Thank you for your support of Native Hope as we work to eliminate barriers, offer resources, and inspire hope for Native communities!