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Published: Monday, 5/22/2006

Dancing to history's drum

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
LeRoy Malaterre of the Chippewa tribe performs a dance in ceremonial clothing. Mr. Malaterre grew up on an Indian reservation in North Dakota. LeRoy Malaterre of the Chippewa tribe performs a dance in ceremonial clothing. Mr. Malaterre grew up on an Indian reservation in North Dakota.
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Tennis shoes, sandals, moccasins, and a pair of bare feet pattered across the wooden church floor of the Wolcott House Museum in Maumee yesterday.

During the American Indian round dance, the roughly 50 people circling the church pews swayed their bodies as they moved their feet to the drum beats. It was part of "Our Native American Heritage Celebration: Honoring Our Ancestors and Preserving Our Past," a presentation by the American Indian Intertribal Association of Toledo.

The intertribal dance participants honor ancestors, mother nature, and each other through expressions of love, friendship, and respect, said dance leader LeRoy Malaterre, who has a Chippewa Indian heritage.

"It's a beautiful way of life if people would follow the ways of the elders," said Mr. Malaterre, who grew up on a reservation in North Dakota without observing traditional ways. He later embraced his American Indian culture as an adult.

During the afternoon event, Mr. Malaterre and others discussed their own American Indian heritage and culture, along with that of their ancestors.

American Indian games and craft sales were available during the family-oriented event, which the association hopes will help their mission to preserve tribal culture and promote American Indian education and awareness.

"We try to make it informative and fun," said Joyce Mahaney, president and founder of the American Indian Intertribal Association.

Ethan Cole, 7, of Maumee, throws a dart made from corncobs and feathers. Ethan Cole, 7, of Maumee, throws a dart made from corncobs and feathers.
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Kitty Weinberg of Monclova Township, a first and second-grade teacher at Maumee Valley Country Day, came to yesterday's event to help prepare for upcoming curriculum about American Indians.

"I brought my daughter here to be the guinea pig, trying things out on her that I can use in my classroom," Mrs. Weinberg said.

What Olivia, 7, liked most was the traditional American Indian dress on display and the games, which she said were pretty hard.

"It's really different than the games we have now," said Olivia, a first grader at St. Joan of Arc School.

"No plastic," added Mrs. Weinberg with a laugh.

Olivia and a number of other children tried throwing spears through hoops hanging from a tree branch, and played lawn darts and handheld games where players attempt to swing a ball attached to a string and land it in a hole in a piece of wood or try to loop a hoop on a stick.

Ted Paus, a member of the association with a Southern Cheyenne Indian heritage, said it's up to him and other adults to use these opportunities to get children involved and to pass on American Indian culture to the next generation. "Anytime you can share your culture with other people, it helps you to understand them and for them to understand you," he said. "That's what it's all about."

Jan Trabbic of West Toledo walked away from the event with a purple dreamcatcher and an increased interest in American Indian culture, intending to attend future powwows and other events. "It was really interesting," Ms. Trabbic said. "They need to have more events like this."

Contact Meghan Gilbert at: mgilbert@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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