LAWTON, Okla._Students at Pioneer Park Elementary got a lesson on Native American culture at an assembly put on by local tribal members.
The entire student body gathered in the school's auditorium to learn the history, language and traditions of various local tribes. Elders came to share stories and the youth shared traditional dances.
Two young ladies from the Comanche tribe shared what each part of their regalia symbolized. Both of their outfits, handmade by their grandmother, are intended to be passed down to the next generation. Their whole way of life is intended to preserve their culture.
The students at Pioneer Park Elementary watched in awe as members from the Comanche, Kiowa, Choctaw and Delaware tribes performed an exhibition dance. Malayna Dinwiddie, of the Comanche tribe and current Red River inter-tribal princess, says this performance is important to her because it's one way to preserve her culture.
"I think that it's important, especially being in Oklahoma native country. Everyone that's here, they need to know who lives here. The culture surrounds them every day, even though they don't know it. It is such a normal part of our lives, but not other peoples and they need to know that," Dinwiddie said.
Pamela Fodder, the Lawton Public Schools director of the Title VII Indian Education Program, says it's important to change the common perceptions of Native Americans at a young age.
"We don't live in tee-pees anymore, we are modern day. But yet, we still hold on to what we were raised in and what we were born into," Fodder explained.