Pueblo kids gain insight into Native American symbols, thanks to Indian dancers

Thanks to a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, students at Kyrene de los Niños Elementary School had a month-long residency with artist Ken Duncan of the Yellowbird Indian Dancers.

Using stories, songs and crafts that emphasize respect of family, community and the environment, Duncan taught kindergarten, first, second and third graders how to make petroglyphs with Native American symbols.

The students’ work was attached to a large desert-wall mural in the hallway.

The students learned the symbols and also wrote their stories on the back of their petroglyphs so visitors could read them when they visit the school.

Fourth graders made rattles and personal shields, and fifth graders--the focus group--created personal shields and leather story pouches. In addition to hearing songs and stories from Duncan, the students created their own stories, which were shared as part of Duncan’s culminating performance on Dec. 16.

The Yellowbird Indian Dancers appeared as a family and performed for Niños families, with students also participating in the performances by sharing their stories, dances and the rattles they created.