RAD hosts event recognizing indigenous peoples, Native American diversity

Trickster Cultural Center shares their culture with the students of Huntley High School through dances, storytelling, and songs.


A. Berardi

Trickster Cultural Center and students dance around to celebrate RAD’s third big event by listening to stories about culture and watching dance performances.

By Ava Berardi

In the cafeteria of Huntley High School, you can hear voices quietly talking, and the sound of jingles and clicks fills the air as students gather around to play with crafts or listen to the music from a special Native American and Aztec drum. 

The Recognizing American Diversity club, led by teachers Renee Fowler and Tara Wills, hosted an event to honor and celebrate the diversity of indigenous people and Native American heritage. Fowler and Wills partnered with the Trickster Cultural Center again this year, which provided speakers, award-winning musicians, and Native American and Aztec drum dance performances.

RAD will also be supplying coloring stations to celebrate their culture, popcorn machines, and interactive dances with the Trickster Cultural Center dancers. 

The event was held from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria and commons area after school on Nov. 17. 

“We’re in the middle of a transition. I think it’s important to talk about history and the way the history actually was,” Wills said, “One of those things is food and culture and all of that. It’s important that people can see themselves and see they’re accurately represented. And I think it’s really important for people [who] don’t know anything about the culture to know that you’re living on their land, that’s not ours.”

Both teachers and students stared in awe as dancers floated across the cafeteria, their dresses catching the light and the jingles ringing in their ears. 

The audience learned that lying is not acceptable in the Native American language, for it reflects on the people who taught you to speak this language. It is why they always tell the truth in their language. 

Trickster performed various dances that represented the founding of their homeland and the significance of certain articles of clothing, such as the story of why they are called Indians. 

One piece of clothing had breastplates from being warriors because they believed that bullets and other weapons would not cause harm. 

The eagle feather muscle that looked like wings was made from eagle feathers. There were also hair headbands made from deer and porcupine skin. 

“I wanted to go to this RAD event because I thought it would be so interesting to learn about their culture and it is just really cool,” sophomore Kellan Brancato said. 

Dancer Martiza Garcia stepped into the front of the lunchroom, the presentation situated behind her illuminating the colors of her shawl. She began to dance, and the music and history behind each of her movements could be felt throughout the room. 

This dance was special because it represented the love and respect for the women and how much they share, such as their knowledge and wisdom, for the women teach how to find their identity to be Native Americans. 

The presentation ended with a special song, known as the Traveling song. This song is conveyed as a well-wishing to bless everyone with safe travels and is sung at the end of these gatherings, such as this event.

The dancers of Tricksters began to move around and the drum began to play a steady beat that echoed throughout the cafeteria. Students could be seen smiling and standing up with their families. 

Willis and Fowler danced around the lunchroom smiling with the rest of the dancers, as most attendees stood up to perform this ritual. 

“I like to educate everybody, and whenever I get to educate about our culture it just warms my heart,” Garcia said, “It feels good to be who I am. It is important to show the different styles and teachings and how everything is passed down.”