Young learners don dancing shoes at FDL Mini Powwow
With only 45 minutes to go before the Grand Entry of the Fond du Lac Mini Powwow on Friday, Amanda Misquadace's nerves were shot. "My heart is beating so fast, it's like I'm going to be performing," she said. It was actually her five-year-old dau...
With only 45 minutes to go before the Grand Entry of the Fond du Lac Mini Powwow on Friday, Amanda Misquadace's nerves were shot.
"My heart is beating so fast, it's like I'm going to be performing," she said.
It was actually her five-year-old daughter, Tannia, who was to perform during the powwow wearing a jingle outfit made by her mother.
Misquadace worked furiously to finish the outfit with the help of Linda Dunbar, spiritual advisor for Fond du Lac Head Start.
"We're going to get this done one way or another," Dunbar said to Tannia about her outfit as she fought with a sewing machine.
With Dunbar and Misquadace calling out for ribbon and safety pins, the outfit came together piece by piece as the Grand Entry time crept closer.
"Is it hot in here?" Dunbar asked at one point as she mistakenly pulled the piece of elastic waistband entirely out of the skirt.
Once that problem was solved with a piece of ribbon, Dunbar checked to make sure Tannia's belt had a medicine pouch dangling from it.
"Always dance with the medicine pouch," she told Tannia. "It gives you strength."
Somehow, with 10 minutes to spare, Tannia's outfit was finished and beautiful, and as Tannia stood proudly and beamed, her mother observed her in amazement. She gave Dunbar a giant hug and thanked her.
"I can't believe we did it," she said. "It's incredible."
Tannia's blue and yellow-gold outfit, decorated with over 100 jingles, which are long tubular cones made from tin, was Misquadace's first foray into sewing and design, thanks to a cultural craft program through Fond du Lac Head Start. Most of the outfits were jingle dresses for the girls and grass outfits, adorned with yarn, for the boys. Each outfit was different and unique.
Misquadacace and 14 other parents of Fond du Lac Head Start kids created the powwow regalia for their young sons and daughters to don at the mini powwow, according to Lucy Carlson, parent educator for the family education program.
This was the first class of its kind and once word got out, it quickly filled to capacity, she reported.
"To have 15 parents was great and 15 is about all we could handle well," Carlson said of the time-intensive work.
The idea for the class came with the addition of Dunbar, who took the position of spiritual advisor in the past year. Carlson had invited Dunbar to be a guest speaker at a parent education event and knew she wanted to bring her on board in some way.
"We incorporate a lot of cultural information in our parenting classes," Carlson explained. "Linda came in to talk to our parents about the women's moon ceremony and we just wanted her to keep coming back," Carlson said.
Dunbar, who grew up on the Fond du Lac Reservation, returned after living in Canada for 13 years and said working with Head Start was one of her goals.
"Getting parents and young children involved and participating ... is a good thing," Dunbar said.
The parents worked for nearly two months in group sessions to design and create the outfits for their children.
Funding for the class came in part from grant money, according to Carlson.
Dunbar's knowledge of American Indian tradition, as well as her skills in beading and sewing, made her the key to success with the program, reported Carlson.
While mothers worked on the outfits, other Fond du Lac Head Start staff members provided day care and a meal for the kids.
"It was a team effort," Dunbar said.
Carlson compared the class atmosphere to a women's quilting circle, where "a lot of parenting problems are solved through discussion and support between the women."
"Everyone worked together, helping each other with colors, designs and sewing skills," Dunbar expained.
They plan to hold the class again next year, and the parents who participated this year held a fund raiser to ensure that other parents could have the opportunity.
The only change for next year is the amount of time allowed in making the
"We all learned a lot," Carlson said. "We'll give ourselves more time next year."