TONKAWA – As part of Native American Heritage Month, dancers demonstrated various Native American dances at the Renfro Center on the Northern Oklahoma College campus Nov. 6.
The demonstration was part of Native American Heritage Month.
NOC graduate and Ponca Nation tribal member Oliver Littlecook emceed the event and with the assistance of his son, Pete, sang the songs for the dances.
He explained the history of Native American Dances into traditional, straight, and fancy dance.
Littlecook said the Traditional Dance date back to before the 1860’s, the Straight Dance from the 1860’s to the 1890’s and the Fancy Dance from the 1890’s to present.
He said that all the dances are performed at current Pow Wow’s.
He said the original Traditional Dance evolved from the Ponca Ceremonial Dance which Littlecook says was an elite group of warriors that protected the tribe. Only a select few could be a part of this elite group, they earned entry by their victory in battle.
Littlecook explained that when Native Americans began living on reservations, there were no longer war honors to confer on members but the warriors continued to dance to songs that paid honor to past battles.
He was a founding member of the Northern Oklahoma Thunder Club while at NOC. The Northern Oklahoma Thunder Club is a student group that meets at the Cultural Engagement Center at NOC. NOC sophomore Nadia Kent serves as the club president.
Littlecook also helped organize the first Pow Wow at NOC in 1979.
The demonstration, provided by a U.S. Department of Education grant through the Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTI) program, is supportive of the initiative to provide activities that highlight Native American culture.
The program is housed in the Cultural Engagement Center through the month, ending on Dec. 3. The CEC opened in 2017 and includes contemporary learning spaces where students, faculty, and/or tribal leaders can meet; individual study or collaborative projects can be conducted; culture-based learning activities and community/cultural events can be provided; professional development can be held; and small group or individual tutoring can occur. Northern is continually striving to support the Native American student population.
Photo Caption: A number of Native American dance was demonstrated during Native American Heritage Month at the Renfro Center on the NOC Campus. (photo by John Pickard/Northern Oklahoma College)