On Monday, September 12th, The June Buchannan School students welcomed Mr. Roger James, a Native American from the Navajo nation. Mr. James shared about Navajo culture and demonstrated several native dances, which JBS students were invited to perform. James’s Navajo name is “Power of Four Mountains.” He was able to share not only various aspects of Navajo rituals, but also information about clothing, reservation life, celebration dances, how natural resources are utilized by his people, and more.
Students at JBS were able to engage in a question and answer session about the culture of the Navajo nation and also to participate in a round circle dance called the “Friendship Dance.” Students enjoyed learning about how the parts of Mr. James’s attire were obtained such as his eagle feathers, headdress, and bone breastplate.
James is also an actor on the television series Dry Creek, which can be viewed on Direct TV and The Dish Network, as well as on PBS. Dry Creek’s plot is set in the 1860s in Parrish, FL. Featuring the Western culture of Old Florida, the show utilizes real-life cowboys and Native Americans, including Mr. James. According to Linda Constant, the still photographer of the Dry Creek series, James was born on the Navajo Reservation in 1956. She stated, “He was removed from the reservation when he was ten years old and placed in a Christian family in Salt Lake City, UT. It was a very traumatic thing for him because he lost his mother when he was four. He also had four brothers and two sisters. Three of his brothers today have been murdered on the reservation over Indian land. He is working towards bettering his life with whatever means he can think of. He is a Southwestern artist who creates jewelry, paintings, chalk drawings, and sculptures.”
The June Buchanan School welcomes cultural enrichment throughout the course of the year via a variety of speakers from other cultures. Students benefit from the ability to attend convocations at Alice Lloyd College featuring these speakers, which allows students to see a glimpse of the world outside of eastern Kentucky. Karen Bailey, an instructor at JBS, says, “It isn’t every day that students can learn about the culture of the Navajo tribes or African tribal dances. It’s a rare opportunity to learn firsthand the practices of various cultures. I’m glad that students at JBS have these experiences, as well as others to come.”