Native Party -10yr- Rain Dance Sticks
CCR in Morinville, Alberta, Canada
My son turned 10 in September of 2006. He wanted to have a native party and this is what we came up with. We sent out invitations done on brown paper with native designs & pictures. We had a tee-pee on it with the smoke coming out of the top announcing my son's birthday...the smoke signal! I burned the edges of the paper to make it look like tree bark.(Of course we discussed this until I felt they understood that fire is dangerous and not a tool for them to use).
The kids were asked to arrive dressed as native as they could. This was interesting as native culture is seen differently by everyone. There were only 7 kids invited to the party and we are close with the parents so they came dressed up as well. When the kids arrived they were each asked to choose a native name for themselves. There were two lists posted on the wall made up of names which was made up by my son. They were to pick a name from each list which would become their native name for the party. For example my son chose 'soaring eagle' and my daugter chose 'Little mouse'. The adults were to pick names too, the kids got a kick out of that! Then they picked 2 colors of face paint and I put simply native designs on their cheeks. Then the kids went outside to ride in 3 canoes that we had built out of cardboard. They rode down the river which we made by spraying blue paint all around our property in the shape of a river.
After a few passes around the river my son stopped them at their campsite. Which was just an open area of grass in our backyard. We had all the supplies needed to build camp. They built a tee-pee out of bamboo & a dropsheet. My husband & I helped a bit with this. It was very stable as we staked the bamboo to the ground with tent pegs. We had a huge peice of material that resembled a leopard skin which the kids put down to sit on in the tee-pee. All of the kids climbed into the tee-pee and built frienship bracelets together while my son explained the meaning of each bead and the bracelet. Then the kids were given 1'long cardboard tubes that were already taped on one end. They scooped a dry mix of rice & corn into it and then my husband taped them closed.
They each picked two colored feathers & some bells that we tied onto the tubes with string. This became their dancing sticks. We played native music in the background while my son told everyone the story of 'the rain dance' and how it meant life to the natives. Then we told the kids that we did not want to do a raindance for the birthday party but that we could still do a dance for 'Life'. So we asked each child & parent to make a special wish outloud and then the kids would all dance for their wishes to come true. The wishes were so special by the time it got me at the end I was almost in tears. It was all about friendship & life and I realized at that moment how important their friendships were to each other!
After a snack of fruit & juice we went back out to the yard where we had previously put up 7 posters of native drawn animals. We happen to have a projector so we just projected them from native books we have. It only took about 5 minutes per poster as we only outlined them with black & red! We tied them to our fence in different locations around the yard and set the kids up with a toy bow and arrow set. We explained how the natives used to hunt for their food and how they respected and used each part of the animal. We put green water paint on the end of the arrows so when someone hit an animal we could put their name on their hit. The kids enjoyed seeing where each child hit. It was quite funny at times. Even our 6 yr old daughter was hitting the target & having fun.
After the hunt, we told the kids that now they had to go & gather their animals. We had hidden 7 small plastic animals in our garden that matched the posters they had just hunted in the yard. They were very good quality animals that we had boughten at a store near us. About $3.00/ea. They are so well done that they looked real hidden in a minature forest. We told the kids that they were to keep the first animal they found as this was meant to be their animal and that it would be theirs to keep! The kids really enjoyed this and loved their animals. They were the kind the kids could display on their dressers or play with! When they had all found their animals we met back at the tee-pee and we read them each a short native tale that matched each of their native animals. The books we had used to draw the posters where made up of native stories. These are fantastic Northwest Coast stories by Robert James Challenger. Each story is about 2mins long. This turned out to be a very special time for everyone. The kids were totally mesmerized by the stories and you could tell it meant something to each of them.
They still had time to free play for about 1/2 hour. This all took about 3 hrs. We invited everyone to stay for dinner & cake. When the kids went home my son gave them each a thank you gift bag for coming to his party. He had taken brown paper bags with handles so it looked natural and made them simple beaded necklaces that hung on the outide of the bags. Each one he made with that friend in mind! Inside the bag they got a small leather making kit tee-pees, dreamcatchers and one tomahawk. We bought these at "Michaels" and they were all child friendly. They did not cost much & were special gifts to give! There were also a few native foamy stickers and of course they were going home with their animals they found in the garden, dance sticks & friendship bracelets. It sounds like a lot but it really wasn't.
We heard the next day from the parents that the kids were really impressed with the party & had a lot of fun. Most importantly my son had fun & he will never forget his 10th birthday party!