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East Coast Morning Star Pow Wow Shapes Students’ Future

East Coast Morning Star Pow Wow Shapes Students’ Future
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The Morning Star Celebration pow wow was held at the John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland, where Natives and non-Natives worked together to benefit youth.

The pow wow started in 2001 when the John Carroll School, a for-profit, non-Native Catholic school in the Baltimore area launched a traditional benefit pow wow to raise funds for the St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, Montana. The 14-year collaboration has helped shape the future of Cheyenne and Crow students in remote parts of Montana and taught non-Native students on the East Coast about Native culture.

“I just think that this concept is so beautiful,” Boe Harris, (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and Spirit Lake Tribe of North Dakota) who attended the pow wow, told ICTMN. “It is the future generation helping the future generation.” 

Gary Scholl, vice principal for academics at John Carroll, founded the Morning Star Celebration pow wow. Scholl grew up on a Cheyenne reservation in Oklahoma. He is non-Native, but his mission is to address injustices inflicted by society on American Indians.

“There weren’t benefit pow wows on the East Coast and it is a good thing to gather the Native community in the mid-Atlantic and get them together for a benefit,” Scholl said. “The support has been amazing.”

The gathering has grown to attract upwards of 2,000 people who are entertained by more than 100 dancers and seven drum groups.

Courtesy Morning Star Celebration pow wow

Youth dance in celebration at the Morning Star Celebration pow wow in Bel Air, Maryland

“The pow wow provides motivation for our students to continue to practice the traditions of their respective tribes,” said Curtis Yarlott, executive director at St. Labre. “Students who participate in drumming and dancing (and maintain good behavior and grades) are eligible to travel to the pow wow every second or third year when we are able to take them.”

St. Labre offers Native American Drum Group classes and has curriculum on Northern Cheyenne and Crow Indian languages, among others.

Scholl said the Seventh Host Drum is actually the student group from St. Labre. The students are joined by established invited drum groups in neighboring states, including Youghtanund, Black Horse Butte, White Buffalo Singers, Southern Heart and Medicine Horse, representing Northern Drum; and Jon Orens, head singer, host drum and Southern Drum.

Other performers included Dennis Zotigh, master of ceremonies; Ted Severe, arena director; Larry Gantz, head man dancer and Cherie Germer, head lady dancer.

The pow wow opened at 10 a.m. with a grand entry at 1 p.m. It began with a pipes and pipe bags presentation, followed by Native American flute and Gourd dancing. A duo called “The Dog & Pony Show” played folk music with Native flavor.

“I am going to keep running this pow wow until I retire,” said Scholl, who at 65 can retire after this year’s pow wow. “I will take it year by year.”