Native American club switches to interpretive dancing


Native American Club performs during the 2018 International Days. (Photo courtesy of Sam Sorich)

By Renato Arteaga, Editor-in-Chief

Barefoot students, with streaks
of paint across their faces, stomp
around the stage while they beat their
drums to the Native American music
coming from the speakers.

This is the scene from a 2014 You-
tube video that led to a change this

year in this year’s Native American
club choreography.
In late 2018, the club contacted
a Native American cultural center in

hopes of learning more about the cul-
ture in order to be more appropriate

when representing it, but after-
wards, this meeting led to the center

requesting that the club no longer

perform at I-Days, according to club
officer Sam Sorich, Div. 953.
“In the dance, there was yelling
and face paint, and stomping around,
which we know is offensive, but that
isn’t our club now,” Sorich said. “Just
based on that video, she said what
we were doing was offensive to the
After receiving the information,
the club began altering their dance
instead of missing out on I-Days.
“We decided not to do a Native

American dance, but do an interpre-
tive dance that represents the story of

their culture,” Sorich said.
Native American club’s president,
Keav Zolkowski, Div. 958, explained
that the interpretive dance focuses
more on contemporary music of the
“There are over 500 tribes that
belong to Native American people in

the United States, and it is impos-
sible to express every tribe in one

dance,” Zolkowski said. “There is a
narration throughout the majority of
the song, which explains some of the
main focal points of Native American
The interpretive dance is meant to
honor the Native American culture
instead of pretending to be Native
American, according to the club’s
sponsor, Ms. Sebestyen.
“Native American dance is sacred;
they teach it, they pass it down
through their families,” Sebestyen.
“It’s inappropriate for one indigenous
group to dance to another indigenous
group’s type of style.”
Respecting cultures has been a
prevalent problem in the country in
recent years, and many sports teams

whose mascot features Native Ameri-
can imagery are facing backlash.

The NFL team Washington

Redskins and the NHL team Chica-
go Blackhawks faced a similar dilem-
ma when people began to question

how respectful their representation
of Native American cultures are,
according to a 2018 Chicago Tribune
“I think it was Maya Angelou
who said, ‘If you know better, you
do better,’” Sebestyen said. “There’s
a huge fight between the old and the

young in this building, as to whether
we should be Lane Tech Warriors or
Lane Tech Indians, and Indians is
insulting, it just is.”
Zolkowski said she believes this

will help honor these Native Amer-
ican cultures, instead of disrespect

“We’re just trying to make sure
none of our movements are us trying
to recreate sacred Native American
dances, Zolkowski said. “The whole
club, at first, was kind of confused,

but now everyone is very understand-
ing as to why we’re doing it.”

Native American club is set to per-
form at this year’s upcoming I-Days,

March 14-16, where they will be
showcasing their new interpretive
dance to honor this culture more
“We’re going to try this, and
we don’t know how it’s going to be
received,” Sebestyen said. “We don’t
really know how to feel, while we’re
doing it. This is a work in process,
literally, physically, and emotionally.”