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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Palefaces meet Blackhorse

DESCENDANTS of Native Americans visited the South Cumbrian frontier to teach enthusiasts about their forefathers’ culture.

Burlington C of E School welcomed The American West, an American Indian history and dance company.

Pupils at the Kirkby primary school have learned about North America’s indigenous Plains tribes for the past two months as part of the school’s work towards achieving the International School Award.

The family spoke with pupils about ethnic life and demonstrated sign language and different ways tribes would greet each other.

Children got involved with native singing and dancing and talked about native clothing, as each pupil had created their own Indian costume as part of a project.

Headteacher Jan Bath said: “The children thought it was fantastic. We took over 400 photographs of the children with them.

“They really enjoyed it because the whole topic has inspired them.

“And to have proper Native American people come in was fantastic – not just as a one-off, but linked to something we have been doing for two months now.”

The company – consisting of Alan Blackhorse, wife Sammi Ikusan and children Dax 12, and Danielle, six – first visited the school five years ago.

In recent weeks pupils created tipis, totem poles and dreamcatchers as they learnt about American Indian traditions.

During Wednesday’s visit, children were told intriguing facts, such as how a feather worn at the side of a Native American woman’s head denoted she was single and, when worn at the back, denoted she was married.

Ms Bath said: “It’s a topic that touches everything, obviously history, and we’ve done a lot of philosophy, particularly with the older children, about the moral aspect of how immigrants from other countries went over and destroyed them.

“We’ve done a lot of work on civil rights and the conflict between the native and the whites.

“All we need to do now is slaughter a buffalo and that’s the lot.”

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