The fourth graders at Sandy Creek Elementary School experienced a little bit of Native American culture from performer and teaching artist Dave Ruch.
According to his website www.daveruch.com, “Dave leads students on a fun-filled musical journey into our history. Students become active participants in their own learning as they sing along (in English and Iroquois!), answer questions and act out songs.”
Ruch brought along a handmade rattle made by the Iroquois and had the children guess what materials the Iroquois might have used to make such an instrument long ago.
The handle might have been made out of wood, the top was probably a dried out gourd. Dried-out corn, small stones or animal teeth could have been used inside to create the rattling sound.
Many of the songs Ruch taught the students related to everyday Iroquois life.
“Back then, you relied on nature for all your food. Whether that meant hunting or growing things, nature was everything,” said Ruch. “So when nature brought food to them that they hadn’t seen in a while, they stopped and celebrated with song.”
One song the kids were particularly fond of was called “The Three Sisters.”
Ruch explained that the Native Americans lived in a matriarchal society, where the woman was most important, and that is why the song is called “The Three Sisters” and not “The Three Brothers.”
The lyrics talked of seasons and the growing of corn, peas and squash.
Teachers were instructed to act “squashed” every time the word “squash” was sung, boys covered their head to act as peas and girls held their hands up to a point to symbolize corn.