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Curriculum Guide: Powwow in the Schools

What is a Powwow?

A powwow is an American Indian cultural event involving dance, drumming, song, food and other forms of traditional artistry. There are generally considered to be two kinds of Powwows: tribal-specific powwows and pan-Indian powwows (or competition powwows). Tribal-specific powwows are often private gatherings limited to one tribal community. Held for special purposes and ceremonies, tribal-specific powwows are usually conducted on a reservation or strictly within a specific Indian group. Competition powwows, like the Austin Powwow and American Indian Heritage Festival, are intertribal events open to the general public. Competition powwows often draw hundreds of dancers and drummers to compete for cash prizes and thousands of spectators to enjoy the dancing and music. Despite the competitive and often commercial nature of competition powwows, powwows hold sacred and religious significance for many of the American Indian participants.

Powwows are important to the American Indians because of their role as community-builders. They provide an opportunity for family and friends to gather together and visit, for older American Indians to pass on important traditions to younger generations, and to teach non-Indians about traditional and contemporary Indian culture. Competition powwows are also an economic venture. Beside providing an excellent venue for artisans to sell their crafts and families to sell homemade American Indian food, top-notch dancers can earn their living by travelling from powwow to powwow winning competitions. During powwows, American Indians can break from their day-to-day lives within American society and celebrate their Indian heritage and culture.

Competition powwows like the Austin Powwow are fairly recent traditions, beginning in the early 20th century and becoming very popular in the seventies and eighties. Competition powwows that we see today are products of interesting, dynamic and complex social, cultural and historical factors. At the same time, different aspects of the powwows are constantly changing a powwow is a living cultural event. The Austin Powwow is intertribal, meaning that many different tribes, each with its own history and cultural traditions, attend and compete. These intertribal powwows often lead to the development of pan-tribal traditions, or to the heavy borrowing of cultural traditions between tribes. Intertribal traditions are themselves important and meaningful, but they are different from traditions which are rooted in the individual tribes and their communities.

Participating artists in the Powwow in the Schools program visit the classroom to demonstrate some of the traditional art forms that not only have specific meanings within their home tribes, but also have a valuable role in both ceremonial and competition powwows.

Powwow in the Schools focuses on the important role of certain material art and performance traditions in the maintenance and preservation of Indian culture, especially powwow activi-ties. It would be impossible to perform a powwow, as we know it today, without the pine needle basketry, beading techniques, leatherwork, and regalia discussed in the Powwow in the Schools program. Just as powwow dancers, singers and drummers learn their skills from the elders of their tribal community, the artists who create these objects also acquire their knowledge from family, friends and other community members.

When a Traditional Artist Visits Your Classroom

This checklist is generated specifically for your participation in the 2002 Powwow in the Schools program. However, you may find it useful to refer to this list any time you have a presenter visit your classroom.

A table.

A low and long table will provide an area for the artist to display his or her work and also allow them to have something to lean against as they talk to your students.

A chair.

The artist will probably want to sit down at least for part of his or her demonstration.

Water supply.

The artist will be speaking in front of groups all day and will probably need something to drink during his or her session with your classroom. Please offer bottled water or point out where the water cooler is in your classroom.

  • Arrange room so that everyone can see and hear.
  • Prepare students for the visit by familiarizing them with the artist¹s name, work, and background.
  • Have an electrical outlet available and within reach of the table; also, have an extension cord available. Not every artist will need electricity for his presentation, but it is best to be prepared.
  • Some schools will be required to provide lunch for the artist. If your school is required to do so, please make sure to escort the artist to the lunch hall.
  • Remember to invite your students to sit with him or her.
  • Be clear with the organizer (in this case, Texas Folklife Resources) on where the artist should check in at the school. If they are to check in at the office, please inform the office staff of the artist¹s visit to your class so the artist can be directed to your room. Inform the student paper or other media of the artist¹s visit to your classroom. Also, consider inviting the principal to the presentation.
  • Consider having the students make thank-you cards for the artist. You can send the card home with the artist immediately after the session, or mail them to him or her after the session via Texas Folklife Resources (1317 S. Congress Ave, Austin TX 78704).

The Artists

The American Indian artists participating in this year's Powwow in the Schools program are some of the finest tradition bearers from several different tribal communities. All are highly respected artists who produce objects traditionally used by American Indians. For many of these artists, providing the supplies and materials necessary for powwow activities is a full-time job, and for some, there is not enough time in the day to meet the demand for their work.

One of the following artists will give a presentation in your classroom. We have provided this curriculum guide to help prepare your students for the artist¹s visit and to assist your classroom discussion after the artist has left. We suggest that you discuss the background of the artist (i.e. tribal affiliation, artistic tradition) with the students before the artist¹s visit.

One possible activity for your classroom is to ask your students to research on the internet the tribe with which the artist affiliates. Ask your students to write down a few questions that they would like to ask the artist. Interaction between the artist and the students is an essential part of the Powwow in the Schools program.

Also, remember to talk with your class about Native American culture throughout the school year so that it becomes a natural component of their AISD education..

Choogie Kingfisher (Kituwah Cherokee)

Storyteller Choogie Kingfisher was born and raised in the hills of Green County in Northeast Oklahoma. A Kituwah Cherokee storyteller, Choogie has been performing throughout the United States for the past 16 years. Many of Choogie¹s stories have been passed down to him from his family, elders and friends.

Marjorie Battise (Coushatta) Pine Needle Basketry

Marjorie Battise, a member of the Turkey Clan of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, makes pineneedle, sagegrass, and river cane baskets. Marjorie comes from a line of tribal chiefs beginning with her great-great-grandfather Jeff Abbey. Marjorie began learning to make these different types of baskets from her mother at the age of eight. These baskets continue to be popular among buyers and traders at powwows.

Irene Hamilton(Cheyenne) Beadwork and Moccasin Making

Cheyenne people have long been known for the exquisite beadwork that decorates their clothing and moccasins. Irene Hamilton learned to make moccasins in the traditional manner and knows the appropriate ornamental designs to use. For this reason, her work is highly prized among powwow dancers.

"In 1932, at age six," she remembers, "I observed my grandmother constructing a moccasin while living in an encampment at Colony, Oklahoma. I have had great influence from my mother and sister and cousins. Some hobbyists are beading moccasins without knowing the meaning of color or design." Mrs. Hamilton, however, continues to use the knowledge of traditional color and design passed on to her from family. Tribal beadwork rarely serves just as decoration; it forms an integral part of the culture and rituals for which it was designed.

Vanessa P. Jennings (Kiowa) Bead and Leatherwork, Regalia Making

Vanessa Paukeigope Jennings is one of very few Oklahomans to receive the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She received the award for her efforts to preserve Kiowa heritage. Ms. Jennings spent most of her childhood with her grandparents. From them, she began learning traditional Kiowa artistic techniques, especially from her grandmother, Jeanette Berry Mopope. Jennings' detailed work encompasses a wide range of creative effort: buckskin dresses, leggings, cradle boards, shields, dolls and horse equipment. She has been commissioned by the Kiowa tribal authorities to make ceremonial regalia for important occasions. Ms. Jennings is one of the last Kiowa members to actively preserve tribal traditions in her life; she compares herself to a dinosaur, fearing that when she passes, much of the traditional Kiowa lifestyle will die with her.

Powwow Etiquette

A first visit to a powwow can be overwhelming. Here is a list of basic rules of conduct that a person should follow at a pan-Indian competition powwow, like the Austin Powwow. Please familiarize yourself and your students with these basics of powwow etiquette beforehand so that everyone can enjoy the amazing sights and sounds at the powwow.

  • Do not block the aisles and stay off the rails while watching the dancers.
  • Do not touch the dancers or their outfits. Not only are the decorations on their outfits fragile, but some of the decorations are considered sacred.
  • Come down and dance if you are invited by the announcer, but remember that unless you are wearing sneakers, you must take off your shoes.
  • Do not smoke in the arena or on the festival grounds; the Toney Burger Center is an Austin School facility. Alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs are also prohibited, as they are at all powwows and traditional Indian events.
  • No one other than powwow organizers and sponsors can pass out any type of literature or brochure on the grounds of the Toney Burger Center on the day of the powwow. The only exception is for those who have paid for vendor space. Even then, organizers reserve the right to prohibit distribution of any and all material they feel is inappropriate for this event.
  • From time to time, you will notice that there is a call for a special "blanket dance." This is a powwow tradition in which the audience shows its appreciation for the hosts and the drums. Although the Austin Powwow is a free event, your donations help defray the expenses involved.
  • Do be respectful of American Indian traditions and stand when asked to do so by the announcer. It is customary also to remove any hats that you have on during certain songs. The announcer will inform the audience when it is appropriate to do so.
  • Please pick up your own litter and throw it in the trash. Make it your goal to pick up at least one more piece of trash as a favor to others.
  • Always listen to the emcee. The emcee will give all of the information you need, as well as entertain you and keep you posted on news.

Remember you are a guest. Have fun, ask questions, and meet people. Everyone there is welcome!


Photography is generally permitted, but please remember the following rules:

  • Do not shoot close-ups unless you first ask permission from the person to be photographed.
  • Do not shoot pictures if the announcer asks for all cameras to be shut down. Occasionally there is a special or sacred moment in which photography is not allowed. If you do not abide by this rule, your film will be confiscated.
  • Do not use flash photography during the competition phase of the powwow. You may shoot with flash during intertribal or friendly dances, but don't shoot when the dancers are competing. There is big prize money at stake and the flashes can distract those dancing.

At the Austin Powwow

Every powwow has characteristics that distinguish it from other powwows, but certain elements are fairly consistent, including the presence of dancing and of art sales. The Austin powwow is an inter-tribal competition event that is open to the public.

Admission is free.

If you attend the Austin Powwow and American Indian Heritage Festival on Saturday, November 2nd at the Toney Burger Center, you are likely to experience the following:

During the days before the powwow, Native Americans arrive from all over the country. The Austin Powwow is the largest competition powwow in this part of the country; having drawn approximately 25,000 attendees and participants in past years. The Austin Powwow includes people from many different tribes.

Outside the Toney Burger Center, there will be booths where people are selling, showing, or just talking about their art. A wide variety of traditional and contemporary Native American art forms are available for people to look at and possibly buy.

  • Native American food will be for sale at the Austin Powwow.
  • A variety of contemporary spoken word, musical performances, and art demonstrations will occur outside of the Toney Burger Center on the day of the Powwow.
  • The Powwow begins with a Grand Entry. The Grand Entry is headed by American Indians who are U.S. military veterans. The veterans are followed by tribal leaders and, behind them, the men, women, and children participating in the dance contests.

Dance categories

Many of the styles of dancing you will see at the Powwow originated in specific communities, but today people from many tribes perform these dances. There are several - at the Austin Powwow, including -

Traditional Men's Dance

  • The men wear traditional clothing made from animal skins or cloth.
  • The participants treat their regalia with respect because they honor the animals and plants that provided the materials for their clothes.
  • The dances are exciting and dramatic, often telling stories of past battles or of traditional ways of life.

Traditional Women's Dance

  • The women dance with stately, smooth movements.
  • Their dresses are made from animal skins or cloth and are often decorated with porcupine quills, cowrie shells, elk teeth, beads, and fringe.
  • They often carry an ornate shawl draped over one arm.

Fancy Men's Dance

  • This dance is very popular with younger men.
  • It is a fast and acrobatic dance, with dancers twisting and spinning
  • In this exciting dance, the dancers wear very colorful garments.

Fancy Women's Dance

  • This is sometimes called the "Fancy Shawl Dance" because the women move their shawl behind their shoulders and backs as they dance.
  • It is very popular with young women and girls.
  • Dancers wear very colorful clothing.

Grass Dance's Dance

  • These dancers, always male, wear clothing with lots of long cloth, leather fringe, ribbons, or yarn that hang from their shoulders, waist, and legs.
  • A dancer may carry other items, like hoops, whips, or wands.
  • As they move, each dancer is trying to imitate the movement of the tall grasses from the Great Plains as the grasses blow in the wind.

Jingle-Dress's Dance

  • This is a another very old dance performed by women.
  • The dancers have tin jingles all over their dresses. The jingles are made from the lids of chewing tobacco tins, and some suggest this represents the sacred nature of tobacco for many Native groups.
  • The dancers are judged, in part, on how well they can cause these pieces of tin to ring in time to the drum beat.

Tiny Tot's Dance

  • This is an opportunity for young Native American dancers, from a variety of age groups, to compete in the above

Friendship Dance

  • The Friendship Dance is a time when everyone at the Powwow is invited down to the floor to dance.
  • This is a special opportunity for Austin Powwow spectators to dance with some of the best Powwow dancers in the country.
  • You can use this opportunity to get close to, but not touch, one of the drums used during the Powwow.

Exhibition Dances

  • These dances are not part of the competition repertoire, but rather provide a chance for performers to exhibit a dance/song specific to their tribal culture.
  • Typically, tribes who live in the geographic area of the Powwow perform exhibition dances.
  • At the Austin Powwow we might see a Kiowa Gourd Dance.

1.Ceremonial Clothing

  • The ceremonial clothing worn by powwow dancers is called regalia. Most items of a dancer¹s regalia are hand made either by the dancer or one of his/her relatives. Sometimes dancers buy regalia from artists or trade for objects the dancer has made. Regalia is made from many different types of material: animals skins and skulls, feathers, beads, ribbons and yarns. These materials are put together in elaborate patterns. In addition to their attractive appearance, the materials and patterns often have symbolic meaning referring to the tribal affiliation and/or status of the wearer. Can your students think of clothes that they wear for special occasions that are similar to powwow regalia? ( Examples: Girl or Boy Scout uniforms, school- or sports-affiliated outfits, family heirlooms or religious jewelry.)

2.Traditional Events

  • Powwows exist for several reasons. In addition to the competitive or ceremonial purposes behind them, powwows serve as a chance for families and friends to get together and visit. Because they tend to happen at the same time every year, powwows are also a way to mark time and make the calendar year more special. Powwows are also a chance for adults to pass on their traditions to the next generation, and for Indians to show their traditions and their culture to non-Indians. Can your students come up with any traditional events in their lives that have multiple purposes like this? ( examples: weddings, rodeos, state fairs, birthdays, and funerals.)

3.Sounds and Music

  • American Indian music uses a variety of instruments like drums, rattles, flutes, whistles, and singing voices. At powwows most of the music is made by drums and singers. Music is one of the most important and distinct parts of a powwow; different songs are used at different times of the powwow for different dances and ceremonies. Some songs have words and some songs are made up of vocables, sounds made with the mouth that only have meaning in a song and can¹t be used in everyday speech.

Can your students think of any vocables in songs they know? (a grito in many Tejano songs or "fa-la-la-la-la" in "Deck the Halls") Can your students think of songs they use at special occasions? How is the music made? What instruments are used, and is there singing? Who makes the music and when?

4.Dance Traditions

  • Dance is a central part of every culture. In addition to being entertainment, dance has been used for courtship, as a means of meditation and worship, as a form of storytelling, and as a way of expressing community identity and membership. Examples of dances from various cultures across America include the waltz, the Lindy-Hop, the two-step, the merengue, double dutch, the hora, and step dance. Ask your students to think of some of the dance traditions in their own communities. What types of events, celebrations, or holidays are accompanied by dancing?

5.Family and Tradition

  • All of the artists featured in the Powwow in the Schools program have learned their art from a family member or community elder. This generation-to-generation learning process is fundamental to the passing on of traditional knowledge. Ask your students what kinds of things they have learned in this same way. Have them think about the ways they celebrate holidays, any special family recipes they might know, or any special skills they have learned from their families.

Comprehension Questions

Ask your students the following comprehension questions before they head off to the Austin Powwow.

  • Name three reasons for having a powwow.
Possible answers:
powwows provide an opportunity for families to get together;
powwows allow an opportunity for friends to see each other

powwows are an opportunity for dancers to compete for prizes;

powwows are an opportunity for adult American Indians to pass a part of their traditional culture on to the next generation;

powwows are an opportunity for American Indians to teach non-Indians about their traditional culture.
  • Name three different categories of dancing you can find at the powwow.
Possible answers: Men's Straight Dance, Men's Traditional Dance, Men's Grass Dance, Women's Southern Cloth Dance, Women's Buckskin Dance, Men¹s Fancy Dance, Women's Jingle Dress Dance, Women's Fancy Shawl Dance, Tiny Tots Dance, Gourd Dance.
  • Who is allowed to attend the Austin Powwow?
Everyone is invited to attend. The event is free and open to the public, both Indian and non-Indian.
  • When is it not allowed to take photographs at a powwow?
Occasionally, there is a special or sacred moment in which photography is not allowed. The emcee will announce when photography is prohibited. For example, this might occur if a piece of decoration has fallen off of a dancer's outfit. Flash photography is not allowed during the competition phase of the powwow. You may shoot flash photography during the intertribal or friendly dances, but not when the dancers are competing. Finally, never take a close-up photograph of an individual without first asking that person's permission.

Questions for Discussion

Here are some questions that you can ask your students to foster discussion on the importance of powwows for many American Indians and of other rituals in the lives of your students.

  • Are there occasions for which you wear special outfits different from everyday clothes? Do you feel different when you change your outfit?
  • Have you ever been a member of a group or club that has a special way of dressing that shows membership? Do you know anyone who is?
  • o How would you feel if someone else wore your baseball team outfit of girl scout uniform who wasn¹t a member?
  • Do you ever dance in public? If so, when and where? Do you dance in pairs or solo? o Do you know any traditional dances from your own culture? From where did you learn these dances?
  • What other types of dancing have you seen before?
  • Do you celebrate any holidays or events that are associated with the seasons?
  • When you have special get-togethers with your family, are the children and adults segregated, or do all ages mingle?
  • Have any students in the class been to a powwow? What was it like?

Math Exercise

Powwow dancers spend a lot of time and money preparing themselves for the powwow event. Below is a math exercise that will determine how much money one woman may spend to create one type of outfit you may see at the Austin Powwow. Directions: use your multiplication and addition skills to determine the total cost of materials needed to complete one Women's Northern Cloth Dress used at a Powwow.

Materials for the Dress:

3 yards of trade cloth @ $30 / yard= ___________
3 yards of lining @ $5 / yard? = ____________
9 yards of ribbon trim @ $1 / yard = __________
500 cowrie shells @ $.08 / each = ____________

Materials for the Leggings and Moccasins:

3 pieces of premium white buckskin @ $40 / each = ___________
2 heavy leather soles @ $3.50 / each = ___________
4 bags of Czech-cut beads @ $3 / bag = ____________
Materials for the Purse: 1 piece of premium white buckskin @ $40 / each = ____________
2 bags of Czech-cut beads @ $3 / bag = ______________
7 bags of fire-polished Borealis beads @ $3 / bag = ____________
11 genuine bone hairpipes @ $0.50 / each = ____________
Materials for the Shawl: 2 yards of material @ $6 / yard = ______________
3 yards of fringe @ $7 / yard = _____________
Materials for Belt and Bags: 1 piece of premium white buckskin @ $40 / each = ______________
2 bags of Czech-cut beads @ $3 / bag = _______________
2 strips of leather @ $7 / strip = _____________
1 set of buckles, drops, and conchos @ $185 / set = ____________
TOTAL: ______________________

A Visit to the Austin Powwow & American Indian Heritage Festival Observation Exercise Name_______________________________________
Date of Visit___________________________________
Time of Visit__________________________________
Location of Powwow________________________________

Look for dancers carrying fans made out of eagle feathers. Do both men and women carry them? Are they carried in the right or left hand?

Some women wear feathers on their heads? What other ways do women decorate their hair at the Powwow?

How many drum groups are at the Powwow?

How many players at each drum? Are they men or women?

When is it not allowed to take photographs?

Did you try any of the foods for sale at the Powwow? If so, which ones? Did you like them?

Which part of the Powwow interested you the most? Why?

Would you rather be a dancer or a drummer? Why?

Austin Independent School District American Indian Education project

What is the American Indian Education Project?

The American Indian Education Project (AIEP) is a federally funded project designed to enhance the educational and cultural opportunities for American Indian children enrolled in the Austin ISD. The project employs a project facilitator to implement programs. The facilitator is advised by the Native American Parents¹ Committee (NAPC). NAPC membership is composed of parents and students served by the project, secondary students in the project, and Austin ISD teachers and/or counselors.

The AIEP currently provides the following services to students enrolled in the project:

  • Mentoring between Indian children and community volunteers.
  • Access to a library of books and videos concerning Native American history, crafts, culture, etc.
  • An annual Powwow and Heritage Festival, held in November of each year.
  • An annual Awards Ceremony to honor Indian students for completing another year of school. Each year, special honor is given to 8th and 12th grade American Indian students.
  • Opportunities to meet prominent Native Americans who come to Austin to speak.
  • A question/answer service designed to help students obtain information about Indian topics. o Financial aid counseling for Native American students. This service is offered to any AIEP high school student or their parents.
  • Participation in culture classes offered periodically at AISD facilities.

Who is eligible?

Any Austin ISD student who is a member of a federally or state recognized tribe in the United States, or is an Alaskan native, is eligible to be involved in the AIEP project. Also eligible is any AISD student who has at least one parent or grandparent who was a member of a federally or state recognized tribe, or who was an Alaskan Native.

A Brief Political History

In the 1830s the American Indians of Texas, and many other areas, were forced to either move to Oklahoma or to assimilate into Anglo cultures and give up their own. Today there are only three federally recognized tribes in Texas, the Alabama-Coushatta, the Kickapoo, and the Tigua. Before WWII, most American Indians who still identified with a tribal culture lived on reservations. However in 1955, Eisenhower passed the Indian Relocation Act, which took away tribal banks. This meant that, generally, American Indians were unable to get loans from banks as their land was owned through trust, not title, and could not be used as collateral. In addition, at this time American Indians living on reservations were denied welfare in an attempt to fight poverty on reservations and encourage movement to cities where employment could be found. This American Indian urbanization created a split separating the Urban-Indian (modern) from the Reservation-Indian (traditional).

In the late 1960s, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, the American Indian Movement (AIM) began. Many young Urban-Indians went to reservations to reclaim the culture that their parents had left. They learned about the history of broken treaties, and faced the stark reality of reservation life. In 1972, AIM launched a series of demonstrations: there was a march on the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC and a protest against the condition of life on reservations called the Trail of Broken Treaties. In 1973, a white man stabbed an American Indian and instead of being charged for murder was only charged for manslaughter, AIM protested against this. Conflict between American Indians and whites escalated, American Indians gathered at Wounded Knee to gain federal attention; it was the largest armed conflict in the USA since the Civil War. On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents were killed in a shootout. After the shootout, the violence subsided though not much change occurred.

In the 1990s, cultural awareness and sensitivity heightened politically. The term "Indian" changed to "Native American". The mascots of many schools whose mascots were Indians were changed so to not perpetuate stereotypes. In 1991, President George Bush held a conference in Washington DC which included American Indian tribal leaders, educators, and community leaders. This conference brought both Urban and Reservation Indians together to create economic and educational development. This conference aided relations between the two groups of American Indians. The Urban-Indians would now look to the Reservation-Indians for culture and traditions, while Reservation-Indians would look to Urban-Indians for financial support and representation in the Anglo community.

American Indian history and culture has been imperfectly understood and frequently presented in such a way as to reinforce negative stereotypes. In addition, young, ill-equipped American Indian students have been called on to teach about their history and culture, and to be representatives for all tribes and communities of American Indians.

One of the goals of Powwow in the Schools is to meet the needs for educators seeking curriculum materials that respect the culture and language of diverse student bodies and inform students about the rich cultural heritage of Texas.

When the first Austin City Powwow took place in 1992, 200 people were expected to attend. The crowd surpassed 2,000 and the doors had to be shut. At modern Powwows American Indians from many different tribes participate-the Powwow is a celebration of culture, a way of teaching traditions to American Indian youth, as well as a way to share culture with the general population.

Great Promise was formed in 1991, originally to produce a quarterly national publication, but it was unable to meet demands. Great Promise then changed its focus and became the umbrella organization for the Native American Parents Committee, Powwow, a health conference, and Powwow in the Schools. Their goal, which they continue today, is to collect and publicize resources for and about Texas¹ Native Americans. They particularly strive to assist Texas educators by compiling reading lists and creating teaching curriculum for American Indian studies.

Tribes of Texas

Alabama-Coushatta: Alabama-Coushatta is Texas¹ oldest tribe. Once two separate tribes, they became united in the 1800s when they were forced to share the same land. The tribe was very poor for 74 years, and the population fell to less than 200. In 1928, the Federal Government appropriated funds to help improve these conditions. Also, 3,171 acres of land was purchased adjoining the original reservation. In 1957, the tribe was granted rights to use the revenue from timber sales to benefit the people. In 1959, the tribe was permitted to lease land on the Reservation for mineral rights. The tribe used the revenue from the land to develop programs such as a Head Start Program and to finance college for their youth. In the 1960s, the tribe turned to tourism as a source of jobs for its people. The new jobs created by tourism have greatly improved living conditions of the Alabama-Coushatta. The Alabama-Coushatta are a very proud people and work hard to hold on to their culture while learning to adjust to the modern world of technology. In order to keep the language and traditional crafts alive, a high priority is placed on the elders teaching the youth traditions.

"Alabama-Coushatta Tribe History." Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. Online.


At the time of first contact with whites, the Kickapoo lived an independent, self-sufficient life, including seasonal travel. For generations, this roving life provided the Kickapoos with adequate nutrition while helping them maintain their autonomy. With the pressures of white expansion, Indian removal policies, and the escalating cycle of frontier violence forced the Kickapoos into a series of relocations, divisions, and reassociations. By the mid nineteenth century the tribe had divided into three distinct groups, the Mexican Kickapoo, The Texas Band, and the Oklahoma Kickapoo.

Of the three, the Kansas Kickapoos have become the most settled and acculturated. The Mexican Kickapoo (to whom the Texas band are closely related), the largest division, live in virtual isolation and have been remarkably successful in preserving much of the traditional Kickapoo way of life.

Because of conflict with the whites, most Kickapoos had fled Texas for Mexico or Indian Territory by 1839. Once in Mexico tribes allied themselves with the Mexican military, for which they were awarded 78,000 acres of land that the tribe traded for 17,352 acres at El Nacimiento and an equal amount in Durango. This established a permanent presence in northern Mexico. The Kickapoos did not legally hold the title to land in Texas until 1983 when they became federally recognized and were granted lands near El Indio, Texas.

Because of the Kickapoos' disregard of outside influence they are distinguished by their retention of traditional culture; the coherent Kickapoo way of life has survived. The Kickapoos fear that outside exposure will result in rapid disintegration of their culture. Kickapoos have strong kinship ties, which is their community. In addition, the Kickapoos have been granted dual citizenship (Mexico and USA) because they have migrated across the international border without regard to political boundaries.

"KICKAPOO INDIANS." The Handbook of Texas Online. <


The Tiguas are a Pueblo tribe. They were the first tribe of Texas and have the state's oldest government. Their first contact with Europeans was in 1540 by Coronado and his expedition. Early reports of the Tiguas by the Spanish describe them as a highly domestic, industrious, and generous people. The Spanish worked to Christianize the Tiguas and in 1621, a mission was built in Isleta Pueblo. The mission church is listed as the second oldest in the United States. Today, the church continues to be the center of life. Though the Tiguas practice Roman Catholicism, they continue to carry on their native religion and traditions. The Tiguas have endured despite odds, in 1900 there were only 25 native speakers surviving. Today, the tribe has worked on its economic development and growth. This development has allowed them to expand their services, give more scholarships, and to have more cultural programs. The Tiguas are a modern tribe but are still rich in traditions and culture.

The Tiguas People of the Sun Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tigua Indian Cultural Center El Paso, TX El Paso¹s Tigua Indians First Tribe of Texas Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, 2000 .


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Ballentine, B. and Ballentine I., eds. The Native Americans: An Illustrated History. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1993.

Beck, P.V., Walters, A.L., and Francisco, N. The Sacred. Tsaile, AZ: Navajo Commu- nity College, 1992.

Bierhorst, J. A Cry from the Earth. Santa Fe: Ancient City Press, 1992. Brandon, W. The American Heritage Book of Indians. New York: American Heritage, 1961.

Brown, D. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. New York: Pocket, 1981.

Burton, B. Moving within the Circle: Contemporary Native American Music and Dance.

Canbury, CT: World Music Press, 1993.

Caduto, J.J., and J. Bruchac. Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environ- mental Activities for Children. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum, 1988.

Erdoes, R., and A. Ortiz, eds. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York: Pan theon, 1984.

Harvey, Karen D. and Lisa D. Harjo, eds. Indian Country: Teacher¹s Guide. Golden, Colorado: North American Press, 1994.

Harvey, Karen D., Lisa D. Harjo, and Jane K. Jackson, eds. Teaching about Native American. Washington, D.C.: National Council for the Social Studies, 1990.

Herle, Anita. "Dancing Community: Powwow and Pan-Indianism in North America," Cambridge Anthropology 17:2 (1994): 57-83. Hoxie, Frederick E. ed. Encyclopedia of North American Indians. New York:

Houghton- Mifflin Co., 1996. Josephy, A.M., Jr. Now That the Buffalo¹s Gone. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986. Maxwell, J.A., ed. America¹s Fascinating Indian Heritage. Pleasantville, N.Y.: The Reader¹s Digest Association, 1987.

Medawar, Mardi Oakley. Death on Rainy Mountain. St. Martin¹s Press, 1997 Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Jingle Dancer. Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. New York, N.Y.: Morrow Junior Books, 2000. Spicer, E.H. The American Indians. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1980.

Recordings Borderlands: From Conjunto to Chicken Scratch. Smithsonian/Folkways.

Creation's Journey: Native American Music. Smithsonian/Folkways. Heartbeat. Smithsonian/Folkways, Heartbeat 2. Smithsonian/Folkways. Kiowa Flute, Drum and Song. Joe Big Bow. Dallas, Documentary Arts.

My Relatives Say. Mary Louise Defender Wilson. Makoche Recording Company. Plains Chippewa/Metis Music from Turtle Mountain. Smithsonian/Folkways.

Remaining Ourselves: Music & Tribal Memory. State Arts Council of Oklahoma. Veterans Songs, Lakota Thunder: Makoche Recording Company Voices of the West: Songs and Stories of the Land. Western Folklife Center.

Internet Resources

Additional resources can be found in your school library or at the public library. Ask your librarian for assistance in locating materials. Other Resources

Texas Memorial Museum, The University of Texas at Austin The third floor of this museum has displays on historical and contemporary Native Americans in Texas. Institute of Texan Cultures, The University of Texas at San Antonio The Institute offers more than 25 exhibits on ethnic and cultural groups, including one on Native American art, culture, and history.

Intercultural E-Mail Classroom Connections, St. Olaf College ( )

Through IECC, teachers and classes link with partners from other cultures within the U.S. or in other countries for e-mail classroom pen-pal and project exchanges.

American Indian Resource and Education Coalition (AIREC), Austin The AIREC is a statewide, nonprofit, advocacy organization dedicated to promoting a better understanding of Indian issues and concerns among the broader population and to serving as a source of information on and for Native Americans. AIREC sponsors an annual American Indian education conference, provides speakers for groups interested in learning more about Indian history and culture, and acts as a liaison and clearinghouse for Native American issues in Texas. Native Monthly Reader, RedSun Institute, Crestone, CO (719-256-4848) The Native Monthly Reader is a scholastic newspaper for grades 5 through 12. The reader focuses on Native topics presented in a positive format, highlighting the numerous contributions Native people are making and featuring creative writing, poetry, and works of art expressing Native culture and tradition.

Native Peoples Magazine, Phoenix, AZ (602-265-4855) This magazine was created to help students of all ages appreciate and enjoy the arts and life ways of Native peoples. A teacher¹s guide to selected articles in the magazine is included. Bulk-discounted magazines are available to schools and educational organizations.

Texas Tribal Contacts

Janie Rhinesmith, Education Director

Margie Salzar
Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas
Assistant Tribal Administrator
Route 3 Box 659, Livingston TX 77351
Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas (936) 563-4391 P.O. Box 972, Eagle Pass TX 78853 (830) 773-2105
Albert Alvigrez
Ysleta del Sur Pueblo of Texas 122 South Old Pueblo Road, P.O. Box 17579 Ysleta Station, El Paso TX 79917 (915) 859-7913

Texas Folklife Resources

Nancy Bless, Executive Director
Joe Orbock, Powwow Coordinator
Julia Schwarz, Education VISTA
Simon Fink, Community Residency VISTA
David Kamper, Guest Presenter

Native American Parents' Committee

Glenda Kolarik, President
Karol Dietch, Vice Chair
John Waukechon, Treasurer
Patti Hamrick, AIEP Facilitator Vince Bland,
Community Liaison
Heather Kolarik, Student Representative
Elsa Nelligan, Teacher Representative

Powwow in the Schools was made possible in part through funding from the Texas Commission on the Arts, the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission, Great Promise, and 3M.

If you would like information concerning Texas Folklife's other educational programs, including additional curriculum materials, please contact our office at:

Texas Folklife Resources 1317 S. Congress Ave. Austin, Texas 78704 phone: (512) 441-9255 fax: (512) 441-9222 email:

The Austin Independent School District (AISD) Native American Parents¹ Committee (NAPC) is a group of students, parents and educators working to help community volunteers to design programs that help young people by providing a mentor program, a Native American library, an annual Powwow, and cultural classes to learn more about their Indian heritage. Foremost among these programs is the annual Powwow and Heritage Festival.