Annual Potlatch for our fourth grade class

Cover my earth mother four times with many flowers.

​Let the heavens be covered with banked-up clouds.

Let the earth be covered with fog; cover the earth with rains.

Great waters, rains, cover the earth. Lightning cover the earth.

Let thunder be heard over the earth; let thunder be heard.

Let thunder be heard over the six regions of the earth.

Zuni Prayer​ ​

From the 21 to the 23rd of May our fourth graders will be attending the annual Potlatch Gathering at Silver Falls State Park. They have made beautiful rawhide drums, practiced their singing and drumming and their teacher has prepared them well. The following interview is from the newsletter at the Eugene Waldorf School – a beautiful description of the details.

As the deep, resounding voice of the Potlatch drum, (named “Drumble Thunder” many years ago when it was received at a Potlatch) calls together over 150 curious and excited children, the “Chief Teacher” greets each class and welcomes them to the ever-widening circle. Terry Courtney, Jr., an Elder of the Wasco and Tlinget tribes, gives a blessing in his native language. Terry’s quiet connection with each child has gained him many fans over the years! He loves this gathering and plans to continue “for another hundred years.” He is very honored to be able to share his heritage with children.

A wide, grassy meadow, surrounded by tall firs, in a remote corner of Silver Falls State Park, has been witness to the gathering of Oregon Waldorf fourth graders for many years. Just as native tribes in the Pacific Northwest held Potlatch gatherings, we strive to evoke their mission of meeting in community and sharing abundance. As each child joins their voice in native songs with the “Chief Drummer” Marion Van Namen, they have their first opportunity to look around and see that they are a part of something larger than just their Waldorf class or their Waldorf school. After dinner, classes meet in Clans, and share a getting-to-know you game. Within the safety of friends from their own class, they are encouraged to reach out and make friends with children from other schools. This may be their first acquaintance, but not their last—they will likely see each other again at the Fifth Grade Olympiad and the Sixth Grade Medieval Games.

Both evenings we gather to hear stories of the native peoples who traveled this land before us. And we listen with pleasure as each class presents an offering of poetry, music, or song. Drumming and songs weave us together. Our Clan Day is filled with discovery—of one’s own capacities, of the native craft and lore, and of meeting new friends. Each clan learns a song that represents their clan spirit animal—the Bear, the Eagle, the Coyote, or the Salmon—that the clans will perform at the Giveaway Ceremony. Each child fashions a headband representing his clan using the a button blanket technique long ago adopted by native craftswomen. Excitement builds in anticipation of the Giveaway Ceremony on the last day. Kelley Springer, Butterfly Woman, leads our ceremonial Giveaway. She is a native healer and story teller and has been influenced greatly by her Cherokee ancestors and her supportive Shaman Elders. Students have made a class gift using inspiration from and knowledge of their native studies. Perhaps a drum has been made, or native plants gathered and dried for teas, or a mask has been created, or baskets woven… every year the gifts are thoughtful and beautiful. With great ceremony they are presented and laid upon a blanket. As class teachers listen carefully to each gift, they are inspired to choose just the right one for their class. And so we close another Potlatch and Giveaway with a deeply moving native song and say our farewells for another year.

 

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