Who Lives in a Pineapple – and More Shared During Cultural Presentation

Posted on: November 8, 2023

On Friday, November 3, the Pahá Makȟásaŋ Lowáŋpi (Chalk Hills Singers drum group) from St. Joseph’s Indian School shared their culture and the drum with the third and fourth grades at Chamberlain Elementary School. Fourth Grade Teacher Craig Wiekamp organized the event as part of the school’s Happy Birthday South Dakota celebration.

“The fourth-grade team wanted to incorporate more culture in our celebration, and we thought inviting the St. Joseph’s drum group would do that.  The collaboration could not have been easier with LaRayne and Mark at St. Joe’s.  They were more than willing to bring the drum group, and the students at Chamberlain Elementary enjoyed it very much. We would like to continue to invite the drum group,” said Wiekamp. “Our students have worked very hard while learning about the history and culture of South Dakota, so we wanted to give them the chance share it with the community,” he added.

“It felt very good to drum and sing for my old school,” said Jesse Red Hail, Jr., who attended Chamberlain Elementary previously. “I hope our drumming and singing made my old classmates and teacher, Ms. Goodrich, happy.”

The occasion provided the opportunity to explain the significance of the drum. For the Lakota and Dakota, the beat of the drum is in harmony with the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Native American Studies Lead LaRayne Woster talked about the drum’s use during the powwow celebration and the presence of the Eagle Staff and its meaning. She shared the words and purpose of both the flag song and the victory song, sung for veterans and warriors.

Hehaka Black Lance, who took several leads during the songs, commented, “Getting to wear our new jackets with our Chalk Hills Singers logo made my voice louder, more powerful and stronger.”

Rec Center Specialist Mark Schoenhard, who is the drum keeper, said, “The boys build a lot of pride and character sharing their tradition. The drum group is the center of the community at St. Joe’s. It was nice to be in the center for our Chamberlain friends.”

Though a reverent and powerful part of the culture, the drum can be playful, too. The Chalk Hills Singers enjoyed sharing a rousing version of the “SpongeBob SquarePants Song” by the Black Lodge Singers, inviting the class to join in echoing their lines: “Who lives in a pineapple? Under the Blue Sea? SpongeBob SquarePants!”