By Roseanne McKee
Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise
DEWEY — The 16th annual Battle of the Plains was held at the Washington County Fairgrounds on Jan. 19. Programs compete for best dancer bragging rights at the all-youth powwow. Photos from the event are at the end of this article.
The powwow is co-sponsored by Operation Eagle, a program for Native American youth, and the Royal Valley Boys & Girls Club of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, from Mayetta, Kan. Royal Valley was not able to attend this year due to the weather.
Some of the other programs competing were Johnson-O’Malley in Osage County and Indian Intertribal Club of Tulsa, which is known by the acronym IICOT.
The head singer was Geramey Cable; head man was Kwowee Potts; head lady was Jewell McDonald, the master of ceremonies was Kilan Jacobs, the arena director was Dude Blalock and the coordinators were Dennis LittleAxe and Anita Evans.
Before the powwow began, several of those involved spoke to the EE about the event and Operation Eagle.
At other powwows, the youth dancers are grouped into juniors, age 6 to 12. At this powwow ages are broken down into smaller age groups, said Quannah LittleAxe, an adviser and one of the dance instructors.
“I teach the girls [to dance],” LittleAxe said. “We meet monthly for about an hour to practice during the academic year.”
“This is a dance that’s just geared solely on the children for them to get together, meet new people, have a good time and dance,” LittleAxe said.
Each youth receives a participation ribbon and then points are accrued by each dancer in each category. Winners in each category receive ribbons. At the end of the day, the program whose students have amassed the most points, wins the Battle of the Plains Powwow.
Other activities at Operation Eagle are crafts, regalia making classes and educational field trips, LittleAxe said.
“Our students and their families identify as Native American/indigenous, President of the Operation Eagle Parents Jessie Haase said.
Every year there is an Operation Eagle Princess and this year it is her daughter, Kele Haase. There are responsibilities for the role, including greeting people at events and being introduced at powwows. At every powwow the princesses sign in so they can be recognized. At Saturday’s powwow, three other 2018-19 princesses were in attendance — Delaware Powwow Princess Skye Scimeca, Delaware War Mothers Princess Hailey Griffith and IICOT Princess Alexis Madden.
“We have upwards of 1,000 carded students in Bartlesville Public School system and so they probably are from tribes from all over the country. I can name several kids who belong to five different tribes so I think we have a pretty good representation in this one little group,” Haase said.
According to its website, Operation Eagle Indian Education Program oversees two federal programs for American Indian/Alaska Native students in the Bartlesville Public School system. Johnson O’Malley is funded through the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and provides services for students who have a CDIB
card or tribal membership card from any federally-recognized tribe. Title VII services are available to students who have a 506 (Indian Eligiblity) form on file with the Indian Education Office of Bartlesville Public Schools, and have a parent or grandparent who has a CDIB or is a member of a federally-recognized tribe.
The powwow began with a grand entry in which all of the dancers entered the dance area single file.
After Grand Entry, there was a memorial song during which all the dancers stood in place in the circular dance area around the drum and singers in the center and did not dance.
This was followed by a song in which the boys danced in a circle around the drum and singers while the girls formed an outer circle moving more slowly.
Then the competition began with tiny tots dancing first — some with their parents and some took the courageous step of dancing on their own.
Haase said she enjoys seeing the different generations of participants as the youth grow up and have children of their own in Operation Eagle.
The next event sponsored by Operation Eagle is a powwow in April at the Washington County Fairgrounds on a date to be announced.
“That is open to everyone, but it is sponsored by Operation Eagle. That is more of a traditional dance. We will crown our princess. We will have gourd dancing,” Haase said. “We will have a children and adults contest and in that contest they will get a payout like they do at other powwows. If you win your category, you will get a cash prize.”
To learn more about Operation Eagle, call 918-337-0130 or visit its Facebook page called Operation Eagle Title VII Indian Education.