RaiderReads Native American Culture Week

        RaiderReads, familiarly known as RR Day, is the Hun School’s annual one-day program where students explore and learn about multiple perspectives of a specific topic directly from experts, accomplished leaders, and extraordinary authors and artists themselves. In collaboration with the Centennial Speakers Series and student-leaders, RR Day is designed to expose students to new ideas and gather their focus onto the underrepresented topics or real-world issues to stretch their knowledge and understanding.  

        Given an unprecedented school year, 2021 RaiderReads spanned three academic days, taking place during each day’s flex period virtually. Through arts and performances, RR Day celebrated and introduced students to Native American culture.

        Opening the series, the Hun School welcomed Joy Harjo, the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States and a talented musician. Just like at any of her other performances, Harjo began with Eagle, as if paving the way from us to her, an artist, but first and foremost, a Native American. 

        “Every poem is a prayer. Prayer is connecting,” said Joy Harjo.

        Beginning with the talk of “Circles of motion” that symbolizes the image of an eagle rounding out in the blue sky over the Salt River in Eagle, then “…police with their guns cannot enter here to move us off our lands…be who you are, even if it kills you…” in Break My Heart, to A Postcolonial Tail  and excerpts from An American Sunrise, the audience explores Harjo’s Native American culture through highlights of nature, history, and personal insights. 

        Ms. Harjo shared her culture. However, through her captivating poetry performances and profound thoughts, she also prompted the audience to ponder over what surrounds them and what they surround. 

        “I think it was a great experience because I had never thought that I would be able to witness and learn about traditional Native American culture in that way,” said Gabe Huang’ 22.

        In continuance with exploring Native American culture, the next two days focused on a crucial element of the culture: dance. Through their dances, the RedHawk Native Arts Council brought the Hun community closer to the beauty, spirit, and history Native Americans. Introducing different types of dance and their significance, the artists also debriefed the meaning behind each song, instrument, costume, and dance move. Every costume piece to each dance move was intentional. For instance, there are 366 jingles on the female dancer’s dress, specifically used for the healing themed dance, “Jingle Dress.” Out of the 366 jingles, 365 of them represent each day of the year while the last one holds a special prayer.

Screenshot by Angel Truong

        “I really liked all the colors in the traditional outfits and the fact that each individual part of the outfit has a very specific meaning. I also like how the people told us about the origin stories about some of the dances and the music,” said Mei von Kaenel’ 21.

        Despite it being a virtual session, the warm welcoming, dedicated teaching, and lively dances traveled beyond the screen, surrounding the audience in respect and awe. 

        “I think it’s really meaningful that we are spreading cultural awareness and really grateful that we as the students of Hun are accessible to such opportunities. I believe events like this are more needed than ever especially under the current societal climate,” commented Kevin Luo’ 21. 

        Closing the 2021 RaiderReads Day on a more socially-aware, heartfelt note, the student body expressed their appreciation towards the Hun administration, faculty and all guests, while looking forward to the next learning experience.