Thunderbirds Land at Countrywood

Marie McKinney Ponce, a Cherokee Indian, demonstrates a dance used to create an updraft for the fires used in their homes.
Marie McKinney Ponce, a Cherokee Indian, demonstrates a dance used to create an updraft for the fires used in their homes.
Left to right: Allan Star, Louis Mofsie, and Marie McKinney Ponce.
Left to right: Allan Star, Louis Mofsie, and Marie McKinney Ponce.
The Hoop dance, performed by Marie McKinney Ponce, was more difficult than it looks, as the dancer may not use their hands to first pick the hoops off the ground.
The Hoop dance, performed by Marie McKinney Ponce, was more difficult than it looks, as the dancer may not use their hands to first pick the hoops off the ground.
Students related to the hoops and the Hoop dance was a big hit.
Students related to the hoops and the Hoop dance was a big hit.
All dances have a history and story to tell.
All dances have a history and story to tell.
These first-graders were captivated by the American Indian costumes.
These first-graders were captivated by the American Indian costumes.
Allan Star, a Lenape Indian, confirms that his volunteers are indeed first-graders.
Allan Star, a Lenape Indian, confirms that his volunteers are indeed first-graders.
Mr. Star first demonstrates a dance in which the participants pick up a feather using only their mouth.
Mr. Star first demonstrates a dance in which the participants pick up a feather using only their mouth.
With help from Marie McKinney Ponce, Mr. Star and his four volunteers make sure that no body part, except your feet, touches the ground as they pick up a feather with their mouth.
With help from Marie McKinney Ponce, Mr. Star and his four volunteers make sure that no body part, except your feet, touches the ground as they pick up a feather with their mouth.

Countrywood students were treated to a fantastic performance today, teaching them about American Indian culture that weaved history, dance, and song. "This is how we keep our culture alive and how we identify with it," said Louis Mofsie, director of the New York-based Thunderbird American Indian Dancers.

“I think that when they teach about American Indian history in many schools it’s always in the past tense, and we are here to let students know that the American Indian culture is still very much alive,” said Mr. Mofsie, who is half Hoppe (Arizona) and half Winnebago (Nebraska). 

Joining Mr. Mofsie was Allan Star, from the Lenape tribe in New Jersey, and Marie McKinney Ponce, a Cherokee from the mountains of North Carolina. “All dances have a history,” said Mr. Mofsie. “There were traditional dances for men and women, as well as ones with more unique names, like "shawl dance" and "fancy dance." Each dance has its own history, which I talk about with the Countrywood students before we perform that dance.” 

The PTA Cultural Arts Committee who works with Peggy Low of the Huntington Cultural Arts Council and their JOURNEY Arts-in-Education program brought the Thunderbirds to Countrywood.