Native Spirituality Day at St Josephs’ Catholic Primary School Swansea

March 26, 2015

On Thursday 26th March 2015, pupils at St Joseph’s Primary School learned about Native Spirituality. This was at the request of the Headteacher, Juliet Stack, who has a personal interest in the subject and also realised that such a day would fit perfectly with Area Five of Peace Mala Accreditation which encourages schools to celebrate cultural, racial and religious diversity through art, music, drama and dance.

Ruth Davies is Peace Mala’s official Tribal and Native Traditions representative. Ruth is of white and Native Canadian origin and has lived in Wales for many years. Over the years, Ruth and her son Malcolm have attended many Peace Mala events including the launch where they lit the peace candle for all native and tribal people.

Ruth and Malcolm, along with Coedcae School pupil Morgan Aubrey, at the launch of Peace Mala
Ruth and Malcolm, along with Coedcae School pupil Morgan Aubrey, at the launch of Peace Mala

The day at St Joseph’s school began with a lesson in which Ruth explained Native cultural traditions and beliefs. Respect for planet earth and all who live on it is central to Native Spirituality. In the Peace Mala bracelet, tribal and native people are represented in the indigo bead of the second rainbow:
INDIGO: This is for tribal and native people who believe that all of creation is sacred and that all people share one heart though they are many.
Peace message: Man did not weave the web of life – he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself – Chief Seattle

After the lesson, the class were taken outside to the school’s peace garden where there is already a totem pole in place. Here, Ruth explained the Native tradition of smudging with white sage for healing and blessing. As our photographs show, this was greatly enjoyed and appreciated by everyone.

With a return to the classroom pupils were taught about the significance and symbolism of dream catchers. Pupils proceeded to make their own dream catchers from willow hoops threaded with string and personal designs, using original crafts with shells, feathers, wool, bone and small symbolic animal beads. The emphasis was on the interconnectedness of all life … the web of life!

After lunch Malcolm, performed the Hoop Dance for the whole school. The Hoop Dance is a form of storytelling dance incorporating the use of 30 or more hoops, which are used to create both static and dynamic shapes, representing various animals, symbols, and storytelling elements.

The Hoop Dance has profound meaning in Native American and Canadian culture as it symbolises healing and eternal life. Each hoop is decorated with colours representing the people and nations who share the Earth. There are also colours of the earth and sky, the elements that support life, the seasons, and stages of life.

The dance focuses on very rapid moves and the construction of hoop formations around and about the body forming appendages such as wings and tails.

Pupils were invited to guess which animals Malcolm became as he made amazing shapes with the hoops on his body. The final shape of the eagle was made using all the hoops.

The eagle is very sacred to Native Americans and Canadians and is believed to carry prayers for peace to the Great Spirit.

Malcolm dances for All our relations!