Curriculum Guide: Powwow in the Schools (2023)

The Artists

The American Indian artists participating in this year's Powwow in the Schools program are some of the finest tradition bearers from several different tribal communities. All are highly respected artists who produce objects traditionally used by American Indians. For many of these artists, providing the supplies and materials necessary for powwow activities is a full-time job, and for some, there is not enough time in the day to meet the demand for their work.

One of the following artists will give a presentation in your classroom. We have provided this curriculum guide to help prepare your students for the artist¹s visit and to assist your classroom discussion after the artist has left. We suggest that you discuss the background of the artist (i.e. tribal affiliation, artistic tradition) with the students before the artist¹s visit.

One possible activity for your classroom is to ask your students to research on the internet the tribe with which the artist affiliates. Ask your students to write down a few questions that they would like to ask the artist. Interaction between the artist and the students is an essential part of the Powwow in the Schools program.

Also, remember to talk with your class about Native American culture throughout the school year so that it becomes a natural component of their AISD education..

Choogie Kingfisher (Kituwah Cherokee)

Storyteller Choogie Kingfisher was born and raised in the hills of Green County in Northeast Oklahoma. A Kituwah Cherokee storyteller, Choogie has been performing throughout the United States for the past 16 years. Many of Choogie¹s stories have been passed down to him from his family, elders and friends.

Marjorie Battise (Coushatta) Pine Needle Basketry

Marjorie Battise, a member of the Turkey Clan of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, makes pineneedle, sagegrass, and river cane baskets. Marjorie comes from a line of tribal chiefs beginning with her great-great-grandfather Jeff Abbey. Marjorie began learning to make these different types of baskets from her mother at the age of eight. These baskets continue to be popular among buyers and traders at powwows.

Irene Hamilton(Cheyenne) Beadwork and Moccasin Making

Cheyenne people have long been known for the exquisite beadwork that decorates their clothing and moccasins. Irene Hamilton learned to make moccasins in the traditional manner and knows the appropriate ornamental designs to use. For this reason, her work is highly prized among powwow dancers.

"In 1932, at age six," she remembers, "I observed my grandmother constructing a moccasin while living in an encampment at Colony, Oklahoma. I have had great influence from my mother and sister and cousins. Some hobbyists are beading moccasins without knowing the meaning of color or design." Mrs. Hamilton, however, continues to use the knowledge of traditional color and design passed on to her from family. Tribal beadwork rarely serves just as decoration; it forms an integral part of the culture and rituals for which it was designed.

Vanessa P. Jennings (Kiowa) Bead and Leatherwork, Regalia Making

Vanessa Paukeigope Jennings is one of very few Oklahomans to receive the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She received the award for her efforts to preserve Kiowa heritage. Ms. Jennings spent most of her childhood with her grandparents. From them, she began learning traditional Kiowa artistic techniques, especially from her grandmother, Jeanette Berry Mopope. Jennings' detailed work encompasses a wide range of creative effort: buckskin dresses, leggings, cradle boards, shields, dolls and horse equipment. She has been commissioned by the Kiowa tribal authorities to make ceremonial regalia for important occasions. Ms. Jennings is one of the last Kiowa members to actively preserve tribal traditions in her life; she compares herself to a dinosaur, fearing that when she passes, much of the traditional Kiowa lifestyle will die with her.

Powwow Etiquette

A first visit to a powwow can be overwhelming. Here is a list of basic rules of conduct that a person should follow at a pan-Indian competition powwow, like the Austin Powwow. Please familiarize yourself and your students with these basics of powwow etiquette beforehand so that everyone can enjoy the amazing sights and sounds at the powwow.

Who is eligible?

Any Austin ISD student who is a member of a federally or state recognized tribe in the United States, or is an Alaskan native, is eligible to be involved in the AIEP project. Also eligible is any AISD student who has at least one parent or grandparent who was a member of a federally or state recognized tribe, or who was an Alaskan Native.

A Brief Political History

In the 1830s the American Indians of Texas, and many other areas, were forced to either move to Oklahoma or to assimilate into Anglo cultures and give up their own. Today there are only three federally recognized tribes in Texas, the Alabama-Coushatta, the Kickapoo, and the Tigua. Before WWII, most American Indians who still identified with a tribal culture lived on reservations. However in 1955, Eisenhower passed the Indian Relocation Act, which took away tribal banks. This meant that, generally, American Indians were unable to get loans from banks as their land was owned through trust, not title, and could not be used as collateral. In addition, at this time American Indians living on reservations were denied welfare in an attempt to fight poverty on reservations and encourage movement to cities where employment could be found. This American Indian urbanization created a split separating the Urban-Indian (modern) from the Reservation-Indian (traditional).

In the late 1960s, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, the American Indian Movement (AIM) began. Many young Urban-Indians went to reservations to reclaim the culture that their parents had left. They learned about the history of broken treaties, and faced the stark reality of reservation life. In 1972, AIM launched a series of demonstrations: there was a march on the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC and a protest against the condition of life on reservations called the Trail of Broken Treaties. In 1973, a white man stabbed an American Indian and instead of being charged for murder was only charged for manslaughter, AIM protested against this. Conflict between American Indians and whites escalated, American Indians gathered at Wounded Knee to gain federal attention; it was the largest armed conflict in the USA since the Civil War. On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents were killed in a shootout. After the shootout, the violence subsided though not much change occurred.

In the 1990s, cultural awareness and sensitivity heightened politically. The term "Indian" changed to "Native American". The mascots of many schools whose mascots were Indians were changed so to not perpetuate stereotypes. In 1991, President George Bush held a conference in Washington DC which included American Indian tribal leaders, educators, and community leaders. This conference brought both Urban and Reservation Indians together to create economic and educational development. This conference aided relations between the two groups of American Indians. The Urban-Indians would now look to the Reservation-Indians for culture and traditions, while Reservation-Indians would look to Urban-Indians for financial support and representation in the Anglo community.

American Indian history and culture has been imperfectly understood and frequently presented in such a way as to reinforce negative stereotypes. In addition, young, ill-equipped American Indian students have been called on to teach about their history and culture, and to be representatives for all tribes and communities of American Indians.

One of the goals of Powwow in the Schools is to meet the needs for educators seeking curriculum materials that respect the culture and language of diverse student bodies and inform students about the rich cultural heritage of Texas.

When the first Austin City Powwow took place in 1992, 200 people were expected to attend. The crowd surpassed 2,000 and the doors had to be shut. At modern Powwows American Indians from many different tribes participate-the Powwow is a celebration of culture, a way of teaching traditions to American Indian youth, as well as a way to share culture with the general population.

Great Promise was formed in 1991, originally to produce a quarterly national publication, but it was unable to meet demands. Great Promise then changed its focus and became the umbrella organization for the Native American Parents Committee, Powwow, a health conference, and Powwow in the Schools. Their goal, which they continue today, is to collect and publicize resources for and about Texas¹ Native Americans. They particularly strive to assist Texas educators by compiling reading lists and creating teaching curriculum for American Indian studies.

Tribes of Texas

Alabama-Coushatta: Alabama-Coushatta is Texas¹ oldest tribe. Once two separate tribes, they became united in the 1800s when they were forced to share the same land. The tribe was very poor for 74 years, and the population fell to less than 200. In 1928, the Federal Government appropriated funds to help improve these conditions. Also, 3,171 acres of land was purchased adjoining the original reservation. In 1957, the tribe was granted rights to use the revenue from timber sales to benefit the people. In 1959, the tribe was permitted to lease land on the Reservation for mineral rights. The tribe used the revenue from the land to develop programs such as a Head Start Program and to finance college for their youth. In the 1960s, the tribe turned to tourism as a source of jobs for its people. The new jobs created by tourism have greatly improved living conditions of the Alabama-Coushatta. The Alabama-Coushatta are a very proud people and work hard to hold on to their culture while learning to adjust to the modern world of technology. In order to keep the language and traditional crafts alive, a high priority is placed on the elders teaching the youth traditions.

"Alabama-Coushatta Tribe History." Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. Online.


At the time of first contact with whites, the Kickapoo lived an independent, self-sufficient life, including seasonal travel. For generations, this roving life provided the Kickapoos with adequate nutrition while helping them maintain their autonomy. With the pressures of white expansion, Indian removal policies, and the escalating cycle of frontier violence forced the Kickapoos into a series of relocations, divisions, and reassociations. By the mid nineteenth century the tribe had divided into three distinct groups, the Mexican Kickapoo, The Texas Band, and the Oklahoma Kickapoo.

Of the three, the Kansas Kickapoos have become the most settled and acculturated. The Mexican Kickapoo (to whom the Texas band are closely related), the largest division, live in virtual isolation and have been remarkably successful in preserving much of the traditional Kickapoo way of life.

Because of conflict with the whites, most Kickapoos had fled Texas for Mexico or Indian Territory by 1839. Once in Mexico tribes allied themselves with the Mexican military, for which they were awarded 78,000 acres of land that the tribe traded for 17,352 acres at El Nacimiento and an equal amount in Durango. This established a permanent presence in northern Mexico. The Kickapoos did not legally hold the title to land in Texas until 1983 when they became federally recognized and were granted lands near El Indio, Texas.

Because of the Kickapoos' disregard of outside influence they are distinguished by their retention of traditional culture; the coherent Kickapoo way of life has survived. The Kickapoos fear that outside exposure will result in rapid disintegration of their culture. Kickapoos have strong kinship ties, which is their community. In addition, the Kickapoos have been granted dual citizenship (Mexico and USA) because they have migrated across the international border without regard to political boundaries.

"KICKAPOO INDIANS." The Handbook of Texas Online. <


The Tiguas are a Pueblo tribe. They were the first tribe of Texas and have the state's oldest government. Their first contact with Europeans was in 1540 by Coronado and his expedition. Early reports of the Tiguas by the Spanish describe them as a highly domestic, industrious, and generous people. The Spanish worked to Christianize the Tiguas and in 1621, a mission was built in Isleta Pueblo. The mission church is listed as the second oldest in the United States. Today, the church continues to be the center of life. Though the Tiguas practice Roman Catholicism, they continue to carry on their native religion and traditions. The Tiguas have endured despite odds, in 1900 there were only 25 native speakers surviving. Today, the tribe has worked on its economic development and growth. This development has allowed them to expand their services, give more scholarships, and to have more cultural programs. The Tiguas are a modern tribe but are still rich in traditions and culture.

The Tiguas People of the Sun Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tigua Indian Cultural Center El Paso, TX El Paso¹s Tigua Indians First Tribe of Texas Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, 2000 .


Ancona, George. Powwow. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993.

Ballentine, B. and Ballentine I., eds. The Native Americans: An Illustrated History. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1993.

Beck, P.V., Walters, A.L., and Francisco, N. The Sacred. Tsaile, AZ: Navajo Commu- nity College, 1992.

Bierhorst, J. A Cry from the Earth. Santa Fe: Ancient City Press, 1992. Brandon, W. The American Heritage Book of Indians. New York: American Heritage, 1961.

Brown, D. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. New York: Pocket, 1981.

Burton, B. Moving within the Circle: Contemporary Native American Music and Dance.

Canbury, CT: World Music Press, 1993.

Caduto, J.J., and J. Bruchac. Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environ- mental Activities for Children. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum, 1988.

Erdoes, R., and A. Ortiz, eds. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York: Pan theon, 1984.

Harvey, Karen D. and Lisa D. Harjo, eds. Indian Country: Teacher¹s Guide. Golden, Colorado: North American Press, 1994.

Harvey, Karen D., Lisa D. Harjo, and Jane K. Jackson, eds. Teaching about Native American. Washington, D.C.: National Council for the Social Studies, 1990.

Herle, Anita. "Dancing Community: Powwow and Pan-Indianism in North America," Cambridge Anthropology 17:2 (1994): 57-83. Hoxie, Frederick E. ed. Encyclopedia of North American Indians. New York:

Houghton- Mifflin Co., 1996. Josephy, A.M., Jr. Now That the Buffalo¹s Gone. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986. Maxwell, J.A., ed. America¹s Fascinating Indian Heritage. Pleasantville, N.Y.: The Reader¹s Digest Association, 1987.

Medawar, Mardi Oakley. Death on Rainy Mountain. St. Martin¹s Press, 1997 Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Jingle Dancer. Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. New York, N.Y.: Morrow Junior Books, 2000. Spicer, E.H. The American Indians. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1980.

Recordings Borderlands: From Conjunto to Chicken Scratch. Smithsonian/Folkways.

Creation's Journey: Native American Music. Smithsonian/Folkways. Heartbeat. Smithsonian/Folkways, Heartbeat 2. Smithsonian/Folkways. Kiowa Flute, Drum and Song. Joe Big Bow. Dallas, Documentary Arts.

My Relatives Say. Mary Louise Defender Wilson. Makoche Recording Company. Plains Chippewa/Metis Music from Turtle Mountain. Smithsonian/Folkways.

Remaining Ourselves: Music & Tribal Memory. State Arts Council of Oklahoma. Veterans Songs, Lakota Thunder: Makoche Recording Company Voices of the West: Songs and Stories of the Land. Western Folklife Center.

Internet Resources

Additional resources can be found in your school library or at the public library. Ask your librarian for assistance in locating materials. Other Resources

Texas Memorial Museum, The University of Texas at Austin The third floor of this museum has displays on historical and contemporary Native Americans in Texas. Institute of Texan Cultures, The University of Texas at San Antonio The Institute offers more than 25 exhibits on ethnic and cultural groups, including one on Native American art, culture, and history.

Intercultural E-Mail Classroom Connections, St. Olaf College ( )

Through IECC, teachers and classes link with partners from other cultures within the U.S. or in other countries for e-mail classroom pen-pal and project exchanges.

American Indian Resource and Education Coalition (AIREC), Austin The AIREC is a statewide, nonprofit, advocacy organization dedicated to promoting a better understanding of Indian issues and concerns among the broader population and to serving as a source of information on and for Native Americans. AIREC sponsors an annual American Indian education conference, provides speakers for groups interested in learning more about Indian history and culture, and acts as a liaison and clearinghouse for Native American issues in Texas. Native Monthly Reader, RedSun Institute, Crestone, CO (719-256-4848) The Native Monthly Reader is a scholastic newspaper for grades 5 through 12. The reader focuses on Native topics presented in a positive format, highlighting the numerous contributions Native people are making and featuring creative writing, poetry, and works of art expressing Native culture and tradition.

Native Peoples Magazine, Phoenix, AZ (602-265-4855) This magazine was created to help students of all ages appreciate and enjoy the arts and life ways of Native peoples. A teacher¹s guide to selected articles in the magazine is included. Bulk-discounted magazines are available to schools and educational organizations.

Texas Tribal Contacts

Janie Rhinesmith, Education Director

Margie Salzar
Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas
Assistant Tribal Administrator
Route 3 Box 659, Livingston TX 77351
Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas (936) 563-4391 P.O. Box 972, Eagle Pass TX 78853 (830) 773-2105
Albert Alvigrez
Ysleta del Sur Pueblo of Texas 122 South Old Pueblo Road, P.O. Box 17579 Ysleta Station, El Paso TX 79917 (915) 859-7913

Texas Folklife Resources

Nancy Bless, Executive Director
Joe Orbock, Powwow Coordinator
Julia Schwarz, Education VISTA
Simon Fink, Community Residency VISTA
David Kamper, Guest Presenter

Native American Parents' Committee

Glenda Kolarik, President
Karol Dietch, Vice Chair
John Waukechon, Treasurer
Patti Hamrick, AIEP Facilitator Vince Bland,
Community Liaison
Heather Kolarik, Student Representative
Elsa Nelligan, Teacher Representative

Powwow in the Schools was made possible in part through funding from the Texas Commission on the Arts, the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission, Great Promise, and 3M.

If you would like information concerning Texas Folklife's other educational programs, including additional curriculum materials, please contact our office at:

Texas Folklife Resources 1317 S. Congress Ave. Austin, Texas 78704 phone: (512) 441-9255 fax: (512) 441-9222 email:

The Austin Independent School District (AISD) Native American Parents¹ Committee (NAPC) is a group of students, parents and educators working to help community volunteers to design programs that help young people by providing a mentor program, a Native American library, an annual Powwow, and cultural classes to learn more about their Indian heritage. Foremost among these programs is the annual Powwow and Heritage Festival.

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