Honoring Native American Heritage Month With Battle Creek Central H.S.

“This Event Really is a Special Moment,” Says Principal Tyler Gilland
Written by Katie Halloran | Photos by NHBP Tribal Member and Photographer Johnathon Moulds

Rather than just talk to students about Native American Heritage Month, the teaching staff at Battle Creek Central High School invited Tribal Members from the three local bands of Potawatomi to share Culture in their own meaningful way.

After listening to her students’ desires to learn more about other cultures and heritages, 9th grade Biology Teacher Lexus Baxendale organized a special assembly with the assistance of NHBP Tribal Member and Education Office Coordinator Charles Hendrix on Tuesday, November 21.

“I worked with Charles on the Battle Creek Central High School Career Academies Freshman Academy Advisory Board, where he represents the Tribe,” said Baxendale.

Hendrix quickly put Baxendale in contact with the NHBP Culture Department and helped her access the request form for them to present in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

Thanks to both Hendrix and Baxendale, Tribal Members from NHBP, Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish and Pokagon Band collaborated to feature Drumming, Singing and Dancing in Regalia for the more than 1,000 Battle Creek Central High School students and 60 staff in attendance.

“This event is really a special moment for us to take a moment to pause and acknowledge our local Tribe,” said BC Central Principal Tyler Gilland in an interview to Battle Creek Shopper News. “Especially during the time of the year when we historically honor and celebrate a holiday that was really kind of built on the facts of genocide or attempted extermination of a people. So to be able to take a moment to pause as the students are going into a break, to honor and uplift the Native culture to this land, the people who have been the curators, and caretakers, this is their ancestral land.”

While NHBP Tribal Member and Photographer Johnathon Moulds has photographed many Cultural and Tribal events over the years, he especially appreciated the special energy and vibe brought by the hundreds of students.

“It was overdue to have this type of event,” said Moulds, agreeing with Gilland that education about the local Tribes is vital. “Many adults in the Battle Creek area don’t even know they share a backyard with a Native American Tribe. Having our Culture Department and the other Potawatomi Tribes teach children and their educators about our Culture was a great opportunity.”

The presenters opened up the floor to teach 15 or 20 students some of the Dancing, which was a highlight for Moulds.

The excitement from the students extended beyond the long holiday weekend.

“The students are still talking about the assembly days later, and they were super grateful for the experience,” said Baxendale. “We would love to do it again next year.”

As an educator for the next generation, Baxendale has advice for others in the field: “Just lean into the student’s voice, listen to what they are saying.”   To see the full photo gallery from this educational and fun event, please click here: BCCH Native American Heritage Assembly (passgallery.com)

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