On Nov. 4, four men sporting colorful attire and instruments gathered around the dining hall near to give students and faculty a performance they’d not soon forget.
The sound of the drum rang throughout the courtyard. Two of the men in the Piscataway dancing troupe were dressed as what appeared to be a bird while another was dressed in full native attire, complete with a headdress that resembled a wolf. To the Native Americans, the drum represents a heartbeat that harmonizes together.
The fourth performer wore a long headdress that reached the bottom of his back and kept the tempo by beating upon a drum using a steel stick as he sang. This man was the chief, who has been teaching and touring the country, even parts of the world, along with his people for over twenty-five years.
Some of the students gathered around the Lakeside Patio were here as a part of their class and others were here because they had decided to drop in and listen. Some of the cafeteria staff who was also taking there break was also there to watch and listen to the troupe perform. They performed using a makeshift drum that was beaten by the chief to keep the tempo as the men danced around some of the students and faculty that wanted to participate. The songs that they sang were very traditional and can be found at celebrations such as, the pow wow. The pow wow is a ceremony that involves singing, dancing, and feasting. This ceremony is a representation of Native American culture and is a way to preserve it.
Many believe that what they learn about Native Americans in the classroom or pop culture is all that they need to know about these great people. However, much of what they learn are misconceptions. Native Americans were not warring hungry savages, which many came to believe after hearing the song “Savages” while watching the famous Disney film “Pocahontas.”
The invasion of European settlers and their battles with the native tribes over land, a subject that is frequently discussed in history classes, is most likely one of the reasons for these misconceptions. In reality, the Native American people were relatively peaceful and today many own successful businesses and lead promising lives.
The Native Americans and their culture have impacted Saint Leo’s history as much as they have our nation.