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American History
The Pageant


       All at once, the spot light positioned itself over a vignette that all but seems to pop out of nowhere and the darkness of night.  The image of a lone girl standing quietly in her buckskin dress and beaded crown takes our breath away.  After the initial shock of being transported,  back to a distant past through this presence we are caught in the message. Her hands are lifted to the night sky and while a narrator speaks the Lord's prayer she demonstrates the words through sign language. The girl's whole being suggested such deep reverence it was hard not to be touched as the ancient way of communication between the tribes became such a graceful demonstration of the heart and mind working together through the hands.

      This vignette was closed with the turning off of the spotlight and now The Merry Widow Waltz's lilting melody made the night time around Chilocco lake take on a whole new ambiance. The quiet mystery of moonlit waves softy lapping at the shore was unseen as the activities for bringing a pageant to fruition was being practiced by the whole student body and the employees, too.

      The exercise bars that looked like bowling pins were lined with tape to reflect the light while a black light was shown on them. Girls who were in gymnasium activities were concentrating on their routine so they might be, without one exception, totally in unison with each other while they swung the pins to the music. The grace as well as the strength of the girls couldn't have been more striking while the split second timing of their movements registered a joining of mind and body in the exercise. It was beautiful in a way that was free from defects while the control reflected a standing against stress through their capabilities. The light hearted music contributed its offering to the circumstances for creating a feeling for growth and development.

       And then all at once, the spot light positioned itself over another vignette. This time a young man was bent over a welding torch. The bright sparkles dancing from his welding rod spread out like fireworks while the narrator went into his description of that part of the Chilocco Indian Boarding School's curriculum. Just as suddenly this story was told and once again our mind was transported to a day of yesterday when a wagon full of youthful students were being brought to Chilocco from their reservation. If we didn't know the history or understand how strong this message was meant to be the narrator carefully went through his dialogue so the circumstances were made known.

      The months of practice in Miss Dyer's choir room let the choir members  all come together with our presentation of Roger Hammerstein's and other Broadway musical's tunes.

     “Softly with all the glow of sunrise, a burning kiss is sealing, a vow that all betray,” or “fish got tuh swim, birds got tuh fly, I got tuh love one man 'til I die, can't help lovin' thet man of mine.”

      Never again will I see a pageant with the beauty and strength of performances pulled out from the darkness of  night showing every opportunity of the school there around the Chilocco lake during the spring of 1954.


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