Exploring Cross-Cultural Communication, Diversity and Unity via Lakota Heritage

During May of 2019, Artists Building Capacity as World Citizens sponsored visits to two New Hampshire schools by National Heritage Fellow, master flute artist, and traditional storyteller Kevin Locke.

Kevin uses his Lakota heritage to encourage the welcoming of diversity, communicating across cultures and uniting in peaceful co-existence. Through his workshops and interactive presentations, Kevin works with teachers and curriculum to enhance students’ understanding of these challenges through the use of a variety of artistic media, and the unique historical and cultural contributions of indigenous peoples.

Storytelling with Lakota hoop dances at Seacoast Charter School (Photo ©2019 Glenn Scott Egli)

About 300 students and their teachers welcomed Kevin to the Seacoast Charter School in Dover, where his performance addressed concepts of unity and oneness. In a session with third- and fourth-graders, he shared indigenous music, sign language, prayer songs in the Lakota language, stories, history, and a traditional visionary hoop dance, which represents the roles and responsibilities that all human beings have within the hoops (circles) of life.

Fun learning Lakota hoop dancing at Portsmouth High School (Photo ©2019 Glenn Scott Egli)

Kevin also visited Portsmouth High School, where he performed during one class period for students and teachers. He soon had students on stage learning how to use the hoop used in the traditional hoop dance as his presentation underscored unity as the foundation for all progress, and the unlimited potential in working together toward goals that benefit all.

Seacoast Charter School music-arts teacher, Mary Maravic wrote of Kevin’s visit: “The students and staff SO enjoyed having Kevin at SCS last week! In fact, we are going to look into having him back for a residency ….  Next year is the year the 5/6 do Native American studies, which is a big unit. To have him there for it would be a dream!”

Kevin Locke engages students at the Seacoast Charter School (Photo ©2019 Glenn Scott Egli)

Music student Anton F. wrote: “[his presentation] was very interesting … I am really surprised that it was possible to travel to 94 countries in a lifetime. … I really hope I get the chance when I’m older to travel and learn a different language.”

Student Kira F., said, “I also found the legends very interesting. Especially the one about the eagle and the woman being the only creatures to survive a great flood, then having to recreate humans all on their own, and how everyone has a little bit of eagle in them.”

Josiah A. agreed, “The story of the eagle and how its spirit guides us—that just made me happy. … I think that the world needs more caring people like Kevin.”

“I thought that it was cool how Kevin told us about languages where you don’t shut your lips at all,” said Kieran M. “I would like him to come back so we can see dances of other cultures. This was a really good learning experience and would like to have another.” 

Teachers, students and hoops at Portsmouth High School (Photo ©2019 Glenn Scott Egli)