Summit County Library will celebrate Native American culture
Ryan Summerlin November 13, 2012
November is National American Indian Heritage month, and the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch is primed and ready to celebrate.
It will host a Children’s Native American Indian Celebration on Friday, Nov. 16, from 4 p.m. until 5:30, said the county’s Youth Services librarian, Kirsten Nilsson.
"Since it is National American Indian Heritage month, I thought having an event here that dovetailed with Thanksgiving would work well," Nilsson explained to The Park Record. "We’re planning several activities where kids who participate will move from one station to another and learn about Native American culture."
Activities at each stop will include crafts such as pottery.
"Crayola makes an air-dry clay that I thought would be a good thing to order, because we didn’t have to bake it," Nilsson said. "When I did some research, I found they offered some brown clay and I ordered that."
The kids will make their pots either by coiling rolled pieces of clay or pinching them into shape, Nilsson said.
"We’ll make little terra-cotta pottery and necklaces out of Indian corn and leather," she said.
Other stations will feature string games, which inspired Cat’s Cradle.
"The Native American culture introduced these types of games into our culture," Nilsson said. "In fact, there is one game the Navajo children play that is based on a story about a character named Grandmother Spider. The Navajo kids only played the games in the winter because, as legend would have it, the game is bad luck to play in the summer because it attracted spiders."
Speaking of storytelling, Nilsson scheduled a woman who will tell traditional Native American stories.
"She will tell the story about the coyote trickster, and the grandmother spider as well," Nilsson said. "I think that will be fun."
As the children move from one station to another, they will also be introduced to picture writing, which will help them learn about ancient Pueblo pictographs and petroglyphs, as well as other demonstrations by the Adopt-A-Native Elder program.
"I’m also toying with the idea of showing a demonstration that involves weaving and spinning yarn," Nilsson said. "I envisioned this event to feature activities that are as authentic as possible in the Richins auditorium."
Nilsson said she also wants to include a game where the children try to point out the different states in the United States that have Native American-based names.
"It will be a great way for them to learn something," she said.
In addition to the activities, snacks cornbread with butter and beef jerky will be served.
Nilsson, who has a son-in-law of Navajo decent, said this event will also help kids learn more about state’s history.
"The Native American culture is such an important part of the students’ historical heritage as Utahns," she said. "I also feel like the Native American culture in general doesn’t get the right kind of recognition it deserves. It’s very easy to generalize, and I think a lot of kids aren’t aware of how culturally diverse all the different tribes across the United States are. And while we’ll probably focus mostly on the Navajo culture, we will talk abut the other cultures in Utah."
The Children’s Native American Indian Celebration is part of Nilsson’s idea of having one big event geared towards elementary-school kids at the library each month.
"I want to get more kids of that age into the library," she said. "To have a library hold an event like this is invaluable for the community, because we have so many resources at the library and there is so much information children can find with just a little bit of nudging. Events like this can show the kids what we have."
The Summit County Kimball Junction Branch, 1885 Ute Blvd., will host a free children’s Native American celebration on Friday, Nov. 16, from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. The celebration is open to children of all ages. Children ages six and younger will need an adult helper. Volunteers are needed. To volunteer, contact Kirsten Nilsson at (435) 615-3903 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information, visit www.thesummitcountylibrary.org .