On Friday, January 25, 2019, Royal Valley Unified School District #337 in collaboration with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation hosted a tribal culture extravaganza at the Royal Valley High School Gymnasium in Hoyt, Kansas.
The Royal Valley School District is one of few in Kansas that serve the membership of a tribal nation, allowing the formation of a unique and special relationship with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. Approximately 221 students within the Royal Valley school district are Native Americans or descendants, and of those, 60% are Prairie Band Potawatomi tribal members.
Due to a large portion of Royal Valley’s basketball players being Prairie Band Potawatomi tribal members, both the tribe and school agreed basketball season is an opportune time to feature aspects of the Prairie Band Potawatomi culture in a positive celebration for the entire community.
Throughout the course of regularly scheduled basketball games, the evening activities included an Indian Taco Fundraiser by the Boys & Girls Club of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, posting of colors by the PBP Nation’s color guard, We-Ta-Se Post 410 and vocal rendering of the Nation’s flag song by the Little Soldier Singers prior to the start of the Royal Valley Lady Panthers varsity game. Special guest Manny King, from Haskell Indian Nations University, announced each school’s lineups and scoring during both varsity basketball games.
A highlight of the night was the unveiling of the Royal Valley boys and girls Varsity Basketball teams warm-ups provided by the PBP Nation. Orange and yellow features on the side of the warm-ups signify the Prairie Band as Keepers of the Fire, along with the term, “Shïpshiyēk,” from the Prairie Band Potawatomi language, which translates to “Big Cat,” a term signifying the Royal Valley panther mascot. The back of the warm-ups feature the PBP Nation seal.
The Royal Valley Singers and Dancers, the school’s Native American dance troupe, performed during half time of the Boys Varsity game to close out the evening. The Royal Valley Singers and Dancers regularly perform throughout northeast Kansas at other schools and special events as requested.
Royal Valley Lady Panthers Head Basketball Coach, Kyle Porter was instrumental in bringing this idea to life after being inspired by Nike N7 and their celebration of Native American Heritage Month. Nike N7 provides turquoise uniforms to colleges and universities with significant Native American student populations promoting fellowship, friendship and harmony. The Kansas State High School Activities Association holds rules specific to uniforms but providing unique warm ups that incorporate Native American culture is allowable.
Porter said, “As a coach and teacher at Royal Valley I am excited to see our school find ways to celebrate positive components of our school and support the special partnership we have with the Potawatomi tribe.” The evening’s activities promoted the unique and diverse school district of Royal Valley.
PBPN Chairman Joseph Rupnick said, “I’d like to thank Coach Porter and the entire Royal Valley School staff for their acknowledgment of the Prairie Band Potawatomi culture and providing an avenue for inclusion in the community. The Nation looks forward to Royal Valley’s continued support in recognizing and celebrating Native students and their culture.”
Both of the Royal Valley varsity teams won their games against the Burlington Warriors. For more photos from the evening visit Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation on Facebook.