Suwannee Democrat

November 20, 2012

Learning history

Local Native Americans visit with kids

Andrew McGee
Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak — Kids at the pre-k center at Suwannee-Hamilton Technical Center were visited by local Native Americans recently.

Near the technical center there was a teepee set up and the children from teacher Ashley Kirby’s class were entertained and mesmerized by stories, songs and artifacts presented by several members of Broken Lance Native American Church in Wellborn.

The purpose for the presentation was that November is Native American Awareness Month and some of the folks from Broken Lance wanted to visit to share and give some insight to their heritage.

“Schools ask us to come to demonstrate what Native Americans do,” said Ken Miller. “The Cheyenne would have lodges (teepees) in Florida.”

Miller’s Native American name is Cross Eagle and he explained that the eagle with it’s wings spread wide in Native American culture represents bringing information or news to all.

“I bring the message of Christ,” said Miller. “The eagle is the messenger and I bring the message of the cross of Christ.”

Miller went on to say that the members of Broken Lance teach Christianity, but also teach others about their ancestors and legacy.

Some of the members that day represented several nations, such as the Cherokee, Cheyenne, Choctaw and Seminole nations.

Among some of the things they brought, Miller showed some pictures that were drawn and painted that he said were called ledger art. The ledger art pictures tell stories much like a written language does. He explained that in early Florida history, Native Americans were often taken into custody and jailed for no other reason except that they were not, nor did they resemble, their European captors. The ledger art was a way of preserving or communicating an event to be remembered.

Ken played a drum and chanted several different songs for the children. One song he sang in Cheyenne and then sang it again, but translated in English.

“We did this for the little ones,” said Miller. “They get such a joy out of this.”

The children got an added treat as Miller said that he would ask the different children questions and if they answered correctly, they would be rewarded.

“If I asked a question and a boy got it right, I would give all the boys an arrow head,” said Miller. “The boys really like the arrow heads. When a girl got it right, then all the girls would get necklaces.”

Miller also explained how their church, Broken Lance, got its name. He said if the lance is broken, then there is peace among all.

Broken Lance Native American Church in Wellborn is on US 90 about two miles east of the caution light and currently have about 35 members, both adults and children.