Dance to the beat YAK'S CORNER

Just For Kids

August 03, 1998

It was the Yak's first powwow. Like all first experiences, he didn't know what to expect. Would he like the music? Would he like the dances? Do you have to be Native American to have a good time?

The answers? Yes, yes and no!

Powwows, or Native American get-togethers, are held across the United States. The Yak went to one in Michigan held by Ottawa Indians.

"You've never been to a powwow?" Autumn Gonzalez, 7, asked the Yak. She was shocked - powwows are one of her favorite activities.

"I've been going to them since I could walk," she said.

Dressed in a long red dress and shawl, Autumn started dancing almost as soon as the powwow began. Ottawa of all ages danced in buckskin dresses, grass pants, headpieces made of feathers and porcupine hair. Many of the girls wore turtle purses and necklaces made of turtle shells. Patrick Wilson, 5, carried a dance stick decorated with a beaver skull.

Some of the dancers wore bandannas or vests with the colors of the American flag - a symbol of their deep love for the United States.

"Don't say 'costume,' " said Janine Sam-Szpliet, an adult dancer. "We call it 'regalia.' This is our finery - the best we have."

As the Ottawa danced, a magical energy filled the air. Even the Yak could feel it. It came from the sound of the drums, the singers, the dancers, even the people who were just watching. The longer people danced, the more energy they created. It washed over everyone, like stardust.

"Once you're out there, it's like all you can hear is the drums," explained Autumn's mother, Elizabeth. "It's the best feeling in the world. Even the little kids can feel it."


This week's Brainy-Yak question:

What state has the smallest population?

A. California

b. Nebraska

c. Wyoming

d. Hawaii

e. Kansas

Answer: C. Wyoming had 481,400 people in 1996

Pub date: 8/03/98

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