Tuba City Unified School District celebrates Native heritage, customs and traditions

Students at Eagles Nest Intermediate School participate in traditional dress day Sept. 20 wearing clothing from their native tribes for the entire school day to honor and recognize their tribal traditional heritage. Photo/Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

Students at Eagles Nest Intermediate School participate in traditional dress day Sept. 20 wearing clothing from their native tribes for the entire school day to honor and recognize their tribal traditional heritage. Photo/Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Tuba City School District students observed, participated in and honored Native traditions in class and through a variety of activities last week.

From Tuba City Primary School to the Tuba City High School, each day had a theme including traditional moccasin day, traditional hairstyle day, Native clan day and traditional dress day. Students prepared traditional foods and took part in several royalty pageants for all grade levels that focused on knowledge of one's Native traditions, including speaking fluently in their own tribal language. The winners represent their school for the school year at tribal events.

The United States recognizes American Indian Heritage Day on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Only Maryland observes the day by closing government offices.

But that does not stop Native school districts across the country from celebrating Native American heritage, history and vital Native contributions to the United States during the month of September.

District officials encouraged all seven schools, including the newly named Nizhoni Accelerated Academy (formerly Tuba City Alternative School) to celebrate, honor and observe the student populations' Hopi, Navajo, San Juan Southern Paiute, Apache and Zuni heritage, which blended with the non-Native student population at their district this past week.

Many of the activities encouraged parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and community members to participate. These family members have extensive knowledge of their own tribal traditions, which made the week long activities more meaningful.

The school cafeterias prepared traditional foods to remind students of foods that most modern day native families still prepare at home, such as corn, mutton and traditionally prepared breads. These foods use summer crops like beans, squash, chilis, tomatoes and melons.

Tuba City High School put on a tribal pep rally at Warrior Pavilion Friday afternoon to end the week. 2012 Miss Tuba City High School sang a rousing, up-beat traditional song and introduced the newly crowned 2013 Miss Tuba City High who is from both the Hopi and Navajo tribes.

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