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See What Our Dreamstarters Have Been Up To

4/5/17 under Dreamstarter Culture & Language Preservation

We are so proud of our Dreamstarters from 2015 and 2016 and all that these young Native American leaders are accomplishing in their communities. Here are some updates from a few of our Dreamstarters:

Blaze Burrows

Sticks. Tossels. Lock Up. Scratching. Flicking. And a lot of Running and Wrestling.  That’s what Blaze Burrows, 2016 Running Strong Dreamstarter and his group of High School Trainers did last week as they trained approximately 35 3rd - 5th grade boys on the high school field in Covelo, California.  The weather was perfect, the boys were ready and excited, and the training of this Native man’s coming of age sport was a positive and fun experience.

Blaze is teaching the Wailaki Kyin-naal-del' stick game to younger boys through a training program.

Through Blaze Burrows' Dreamstarter grant, the RVHS Stick Game Trainers put on two trainings. In the second training they trained 6th - 8th graders. Most of the boys had played before, but there were several new players. The trainers reviewed the positions, gave helpful hints, and demonstrations. Then the boys did some drills and played several practice games. Good times with excellent weather! 


Jeremy Dennis

Dreamstarter™ Jeremy Dennis is a Penn State grad (MFA ’16), who grew up on the Shinnecock reservation on Long Island, NY. He is documenting the places that are culturally significant to his people through a project entitled “On This Site.”

“When I was growing up, you don’t really hear about your own personal history or ancestral history as a Native American student,” he told in March. “I hope that I can bring up the history of these specific sites and show their significance and bring power back to the Shinnecock nation.”

Jeremy said he got the idea to photograph the sites from hearing about activists and archaeologists. With the help and encouragement from a relative – the noted photographer Herbert Randall – he set about researching the history of the people.

With his Dreamstarter grant of $10,000 Jeremywas able to pursue the project and make plans for an exhibition and companion book.

Jeremy’s photos can be viewed on his website.


JoRee LaFrance

Dreamstarter JoRee LaFrance is working with high school students on her storytelling project “Apsàalooke Voices and Stories.” As of March, all of the students have identified what stories they are going to use for their books. They are currently working on translations of simplified story lines into the Crow language.

“The books are on a wide range of stories and have brought particular interest to the student,” JoRee said.

Braylee, who is working on a story entitled “Julia” (about her great grandmother), said the vision behind the project “helped me to reconnect with family to talk about the successful and joyful life of my grandma. I am thankful to be able to be a part of this project.”

Cedar, who is working on a story entitled “Lost Boy and the Little People,” said, “So far this project has opened my eyes and made me realize many things about myself and my people. This project personally struck me because I like how I can learn more about the stories in my culture."

JoRee also expressed her thanks for this opportunity: “I am forever grateful and motivated by the love and thanks that I received from the students.”


Robert McRorie

Dreamstarter Robert McRorie is incorporating tribal culture into the classroom for his high school students in Sault St. Marie by having them make traditional Ojibwe items.

Robert explained in a news article in the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News that doing so means “there’s some things that only girls can do and some things that only boys can do, and all the kids in the class understand that aspect of the culture.”

The genders were split for a while with boys making hand drums and girls working on secret baskets, then the class was reunited to make a large ceremonial drum that Robert describes as “really important to our culture."

“It’s a high honor for these guys to be able to make that,” he added.


Rosalia Badhorse

In March, Dreamstarter Rosalia Badhorse highlighted one 12-year-old Powwow Project participant, Haesha. Haesha made a fancy shawl outfit that has mountains and horseshoes on it, representing her life as she was raised riding horses in her homelands.

Rosalia explained that at Haesha’s young age, working with fancy fabrics means that “she has had to wrestle with [them] multiple times.”

But she never gave up. “It’s been a tough journey, but she keeps going and is determined to finish,” Rosalia said.

Haesha wants to become a regular dressmaker to continue her family’s tradition of making traditional dresses. She also wants to dance to honor some of the most powerful women she knows – her grandmothers – as well as to dance to honor the Apsaalooke people.

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