ONYAT’A:KA Celebrating Student’s Creativity & Traditional Indigenous Culture
This week 100 students from Standing Stone School, at Oneida Nation of the Thames, wrote and recorded original songs, 25 participated in filmmaking and another 20 in slam poetry. It was a celebration of Oneida creativity and indigenous culture.
On Friday afternoon just before the end of the day, students poured out of their classrooms and we had this impromptu rock show moment in the hallway! Since we uploaded the video it’s been viewed 9.3K times!
When I walked into the Grade 2 classroom I asked what type of song they’d like to write. “A Christmas song!” one little girl exclaimed. I asked what we should call it. “Christmas Town” another chimed in. By the time I could grab a marker and make my way to the white board the kids were off and running, calling out lyrics as I scrambled to write them down.
I grabbed my guitar and started to find a melody that would work with the lyrics. In four days we wrote the music, lyrics and melody together and recorded it. And honestly…it’s an amazing song!
Songwriting in Oneida
At the beginning of the week, I had an opportunity to get together with L:ao Antone, the Oneida language teacher, who graciously helped me work out some Oneida words that could be incorporated into the song I was writing with the kids. Creative and cultural literacy projects are an incredible opportunity to work together collaboratively to create something bigger than anyone person who is involved. This video is where we started on Monday…by Friday we were chanting at the top of our lungs in the hallway like we were at a rock concert!
Better Hold One
Another class had a poster on the wall that talked about the importance of honesty, friendship, respect and trust. I asked them for an example of what these words look like in their lives.
They started telling me about the new girl in their class, and how they wanted to make sure she was included and felt welcome. That story became the basis of our song lyrics. In between our sessions, the class worked together to act out the story on the playground, and in our last session we managed to record and film everything. It’s a very sweet, catchy little song!
I specialize in facilitating creative literacy projects that incorporate traditional language and cultural. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-896-2572