The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


ELHS hosts its first indigenous presentation and powwow

Photo by Joelle King
After students rose out of respect for the Anishinaabemowin tradition, the dancers began to move their way in a circle around the centered drummers and singers at the assembly on March 21.

After an opening presentation about the Mount Pleasant tribe or the Anishinaabemowin by tribal member Raymond Cadotte, four dancers began to perform a traditional dance. The entire ELHS student body rose to their feet out of respect for tradition. The dancers moved around three performers in the center of the gym known as the ‘Bluehouse singers’ who were playing a drum and singing.

These dancers were dressed from head to toe in regalia native to their tribe with traditional moccasins to match. Additionally, tribal members wore their hair in braids to represent the long grass of Mother Earth.

Cadotte and the other dancers have performed at schools all over Michigan but they hope to reach a wider audience across the country to educate people about indigenous groups and their traditions.

“It’s very important for the general population to know about the original people of this land,” Cadotte said. “That they’re still here and their culture is still vibrant and growing, their language is strong and the people are proud of who they are.”

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Students arranged themselves into two large circles surrounding the drummers and singers at the assembly on March 21 to join their dance. (Photo by Joelle King)

One of the dancers who performed in the powwow was Judy Pam, also known by her Anishinaabemowin name Waabanoqua which refers to the first rays of light when the sun rises. Pam has a passion for inspiring and educating those around her by teaching students about indigenous practices, mentoring adults, and performing traditional dances. She believes everyone should learn about indigenous groups. Pam grew up in tune with her native heritage, so she feels a strong sense of responsibility to share her knowledge and build cross-cultural relationships.

“I tell everybody it’s our shared collective history,” Pam said. “Today is our shared collective life and tomorrow is going to be our shared collective future.”

The event was organized by English teacher, Stirling Korte who has Native American heritage and wanted to showcase indigenous culture at ELHS. Korte was also hoping to raise awareness of the fact that our school was built on native lands. She worked with the Community Outreach Center and the East Lansing Educational Foundation on a grant to have the dancers come and perform.

“I just want the students to get familiar with indigenous culture,” Korte said. “Understand that the land that they’re on is not their land, there were people here before we were, and appreciate that.”

In the future Korte hopes to set up more events like this to give students the opportunity to experience indigenous culture. Her goal is to partner with the MSU indigenous program to have speakers come in and talk about their cultures and perform a powwow for the student body. 

“Hopefully this helps our native students and our native staff feel appreciated,” Korte said.

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Cielo Gutierrez
Cielo Gutierrez, Staff Writer
Cielo Gutierrez is in the class of 2026 and is a staff writer and photographer for Portrait.  This is her first year on staff as a sophomore.  Cielo's favorite thing about journalism is how different people's voices can be heard and how their stories can be shared.   When she's not in the newsroom, Cielo plays the piano when she gets a burst of inspiration, it's very soothing for her.
Joelle King
Joelle King, Photography Editor
Joelle King is in the class of 2025 and is a Photography Editor for Portrait.  This is her second year on staff as a junior.  Joelle's favorite thing about journalism is telling stories through video. When she is not in the newsroom, Joelle loves competitive dancing and reading.

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