The Learning Tree Academy got in touch with Native American culture as well as a tempting taste of Thanksgiving last Friday.

The Comanche Nation Youth Dancers and Singers shared the dances of the Nununu with the school’s pre-kindergarten students.

Principal Lana Welch said it was a great way for her students to celebrate and learn about Native American culture and traditions as part of Native American History Month. Events like this are important, she said.

“This is the best way to show them,” she said. “It’s the start of their education and a hands-on approach gets through to them. It helps teachers teach them at their level.”

Welch said Native American history is important for her students to understand as part of the shared Oklahoma culture. It brings the connection home.

As she clutched the dance group director Teresa Lopez’s hand, fellow pre-k student Yesemin Aitson awaited the exhibition’s beginning. With her otter headband and buckskin dress, she would be a peer with the children in the audience. Her participation made her a teacher as well.

Joined by gourd dancer Nathan Lopez, cloth dancer Lisa Tahchawwickah and jingle dancer Tasha Tahchawwickah, Aitson took her place in view of the students. They would each become a focus to learning for the students.

Teresa Lopez shared background about each of the dances presented. She asked for participation from the audience for the round dance, or “friendship dance.”

“I want to ask some of you to dance with us,” she asked, prompting dozens of the students to join hands and step together.

“We’re wanting all of you to come and dance with us,” she continued. “This is going to be the biggest round dance ever.”

Following the dance exhibition, teachers and staff wheeled in carts with helpings of turkey, popcorn, cheese and pumpkin pie. In keeping with the Thanksgiving holiday, some students wore handmade construction paper pilgrim hats or turkey headbands.

Joined with their Comanche guests, the feast that followed offered an ideal visage to the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Written by Scott Rains: scott.rains@swoknews.com.

Written by Scott Rains: scott.rains@swoknews.com.

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