School’s Out Powwow Celebrates Native Culture



Laura Grizzlypaws performs the “Dance of the Grizzly Bear” as part of the 2023 School’s Out Powwow.

Lillian Saykham, Reporter

The School’s Out Pow wow is a gathering with dances between Native Americans, allowing them to honor their cultures and connect with over 600 people from Wichita and the surrounding area. According Dal Domebo with the Native American Indian Education Program.

“This Pow wow is for a celebration for our students who are in USD 259 and it’s a way for us as a community to be able to pass down our culture, our customs, our traditions to our next generation of youth,” Domebo said.

“…this event is to celebrate… our culture and get our students and younger generations… in touch with our culture, that’s really our main goal here; is to keep in touch with our culture, help students understand their roots, and really just get a taste of it and hopefully enjoy it and come back for years to come,” Southeast junior Julia Harvey said.

Something special that people could learn about the Native culture is through an important dance and animal that holds a close meaning to them.

“The grizzly bear is very symbolic about protected species honoring the four-legged, interconnectedness of all things, as well as becoming the bear. So when I dance with grizzly bear, I am the grizzly bear, I am one with the bear, marking my ancestral footprints here within the community honoring past, present, and future generations embracing that through an authentic culture dance from my nation,” according to Laura Grizzlypaws, an indigenous education developer who performed at the event.

As Native Americans are able to express and teach people their culture, it makes them feel grateful for who they are as people. 

“I think that it’s important to know we are still here and we aren’t characters in a book, characters in a movie, and that it’s not a costume, it’s not a Halloween outfit. that’s something that we carry very highly and when we put these clothes on to dance, it’s not something that we just do just haphazardly… it has a lot of meaning to it,” Southeast alum AJ Harvey said.

“We’re still here, we’re still breathing, we’re still embracing who it is that we are as indigenous people through our forms of dance and being able to express our unique authentic selves through our dance is also empowering and can also be really fulfilling in regards of honoring past, present, and future generations,” Grizzlypaws said.

The powwow happens every year, and this allows people to understand what culture is within the Native American community.