Elementary school students erect tepee, learn about American Indian culture


WINDS BLEW warm across the field, and the skies were bright Dec. 1, when fourth-graders from Running Brook Elementary School put up a 20-foot tepee on school grounds.

It would have been easy to imagine that the children were Native Americans from a Plains tribe, instead of Columbia youngsters studying history.

The tepee-building project was part of a cultural arts program, "Journeys Into American Indian Territory," sponsored by Running Brook's PTA.

The Howard County Arts Council and Wilde Lake Village Board provided additional funding for the project.

The program's founder, anthropologist Robert Vetter, was adopted into the family of the last medicine man of the Comanche tribe while conducting field work for a graduate degree.

Vetter instructed the children in tepee etiquette before they entered the structure.

The space directly opposite the doorway is reserved as a place of honor for elders, he said.

The tepee was red, yellow and black. Bear paw prints decorated its doorway.

Fourth-grader Becky Rothwell modeled a buffalo calf robe, like those worn by children in the Kiowa tribe.

Vetter displayed Indian artifacts, including a buffalo stomach used as a cooking pot, a ceremonial buckskin dress and a rawhide cradle.

The entire school took turns exploring the tepee and playing traditional Native American games.

Maddi Cheers, who assists Vetter with the program, led the children through demonstrations of "shinny" -- the original game of field hockey.

Fifth-graders James Herring and Hussain Masoom tried a hoop-and-stick game played by Indian children to practice their hunting skills.

Andrew Womack and Erin Drum served as the buffalo in a game of buffalo corral, in which teams of hunting parties try to circle the buffalo.

The children were reminded not to make fun of their peers as they practiced hunting games.

"One day, that hunter would polish his skills and bring food for the tribe to share," Cheers said.

Principal Marion Miller said the lessons learned about Indian beliefs and customs reinforced the ethical values taught at Running Brook.

Every day, Miller said, she ends morning announcements by saying, "At Running Brook, we treat ourselves and all others with respect and dignity. We are kind and caring people and show courtesy to others at all times."

PTA cultural arts chairwoman Donna Lyman arranged for the program and assisted during the day.

Lyman believes that the program helped the children to discern fact from fiction about Native American culture.

"I was so impressed by the respect shown by the Native Americans for nature and each other," she said.

"I hope that the children take home a growing sense of respect and tolerance for themselves and others from this program."

World AIDS Day

More than 100 people attended an observance of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center.

The theme for this year was "Be a Force for Change."

The event was sponsored by AIDS Alliance of Howard County, the Howard County Health Department and local religious congregations.

The Long Reach Community Choir, directed by Pauline Downing, opened the ceremony with the hymn "Salvation and Glory."

Dr. Jerry Seals of Harper's Choice remembered Dr. Jonathan Mann and his wife, Dr. Mary Lou Clements-Mann, both of whom && were killed in the crash of Swissair Flight 111 in September.

Jonathan Mann -- a pioneer in the fight against acquired immune deficiency syndrome -- founded the World Health Organization's Global Program on AIDS.

Clements-Mann was a noted vaccine expert who concentrated on HIV vaccine research.

Both were residents of Hickory Ridge.

The audience participated in a candle-lighting ceremony, led by the Rev. William Hayman of the Lutheran Church of the Living Word, which is based at the Interfaith Center.

A holiday party for those affected by HIV will be held 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 27 at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center.

Information: 410-884-7963.

Christmas party

Join Santa for a party at Kahler Hall from 6: 30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 21.

Children are invited to play games, enjoy refreshments, make holiday crafts -- and visit with Santa.

Holiday helpers from Girl Scout troops 1689 and 2117 will assist with the games and crafts.

Admission is a canned or nonperishable food for the Harvest for the Hungry food drive, to benefit the Grassroots Crisis Center.

The party is sponsored by the Harper's Choice Community Association.

4 Kahler Hall is at 5440 Old Tucker Row, Columbia.

Registration is required.

Information: 410-730-0770.

Music at Bryant Woods

Three students from Bryant Woods Elementary School -- Anna Jaller, Khadija Elkharbibi and Mary Gotschalk -- are participating in the Howard County Children's Chorus.

They auditioned in September and will perform with the chorus during the school year.

The chorus will perform in the Music & Arts Holiday Concert at 11: 30 a.m. Dec. 19 at Chatham Mall.

The Bryant Woods music department will offer a concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the school.

The band, strings, third-grade chorus and the chorale -- made up of fourth- and fifth-grade students -- will perform.

Hanukkah Festival

The Other Barn in Oakland Mills Village Center will be the venue for the Columbia Hanukkah Festival from 3 p.m. to 4: 30 p.m. Dec. 20.

Children age 3 and older are invited to play the dreidel game, pin the flame on the menorah and do the latke toss as part of the festivities.

Crafts will include making marshmallow dreidels, sun-catchers and menorahs, and decorating cookies. Snacks will be available.

The event is co-sponsored by the community associations of Dorsey's Search, Harper's Choice, Hickory Ridge, Kings Contrivance, Oakland Mills, Owen Brown, Town Center and Wilde Lake.

Admission is a donation of a canned or other nonperishable item for the holiday food drive.

Register by Dec. 17: The Other Barn, 410-730-4610.

Pub Date: 12/09/98

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad