Native American Day shared at middle school
Students at Somerton Middle School got a taste of another culture Friday from members of Native American Indian tribes.
Members of the Cocopah Indian Tribe held Native American Day at the school Friday, when students got to experience traditional dancing, singing and other parts of the tribe's culture.
Elders and other members - even some of the youngest - were on hand to help educate the Somerton Middle School students about their heritage. Members from the local Quechan Indian Tribe and from the Salt River Indian Tribe near Phoenix also participated.
Somerton school board member Fern Soto, who was instrumental in bringing the event to the school, said the tribes are happy to share their cultures with the children.
"I felt it is really great and the kids really enjoy it, too," she said.
Principal Cecilia Arvizo shared similar sentiments with the students before the first of two assemblies began.
"We appreciate anytime we are able to do that," she said, talking about learning about another culture. And she reminded the students to "value (and) embrace everyone's culture."
This is the second year the Cocopah have come to the school and shared their culture with the students on Native American Day.
In addition to singers from the Cocopah and Quechan tribes, members from the Southwest Kwapa Group performed, including Lynwood Vest Group with lead singer Justina Alvarez.
Master of ceremonies Wynnie Ortega said it was great to share their cultures with the students because "for many years, our culture was never a part of the school."
Arizona has 22 Native American Indian tribes, Ortega said. The dances and songs the tribal members performed are social and celebratory, she said.
Ortega said the songs and dances are very different, and each person puts his or her personality in to it - helping make each one unique.
"They're very different, each and every one of them," she said. "They mean something to each and every one of us."