In the heart of Warm Springs, Oregon, a remarkable celebration unfolded as graduating seniors from Madras and Bridges High Schools in JCSD 509J came together for a memorable event. Organized by two Warm Springs Tribal Member seniors at Madras High School, Dasan Begay and Rylan Davis, the round dance not only honored their culture and heritage but also served as a way to celebrate graduating seniors in our district.

The idea behind the round dance was simple yet profound: to bring together the senior student body and celebrate their upcoming graduation. Begay and Davis envisioned an event that would extend beyond cultural boundaries and create lasting memories for their peers.

For Begay and Davis, seeing their peers embrace the round dance with enthusiasm was incredibly gratifying. 

“That was our main goal was to try to get our peers down there because we wanted to honor them with such a huge accomplishment this year,” Begay said. “This is a good milestone for everybody, graduating high school and this was our last ride together and being together. We wanted to show them how Madras and Warm Springs kids can come together.”

“There’s a cultural divide and bringing us together was something that meant a lot to us,” Davis said. “I want our peers to be comfortable, you know, and inviting them to that I feel like it’s just a one step forward to having us grow more together.”

The turnout exceeded expectations, with more than 30 seniors from both Madras and Bridges High School attending the round dance. Among them were students who had never experienced a traditional Native American event before, but who embraced the opportunity to learn and participate. 

“Inviting them to that, I feel like it’s just one step forward to having us grow more together.” 

– Rylan Davis

Madras High Senior

Each senior received a personal goodie bag prepared by Begay and Davis for coming out to the dance. The bags contained a necklace, blanket, a sticker, and a shirt with the logo of the round dance on it. 

“We wanted to give them a shirt to remember the event because they came down and they took time out of their night and their lives to come down and support us so we wanted to give them a shirt because it really meant a lot to us,” Begay said.

The logo features four native american students standing together and holding hands. They’re looking away and off into the distance at Mt. Jefferson. Two of the students are seniors with their graduation caps on. The other two students are younger. 

“The logo symbolizes how we have caps on because we are getting ready to graduate and helping lead the younger kids to their graduation,” Begay said. “It’s like the older kids turning into adults while helping guide the younger kids.”

One of the big surprises at the round dance was that Begay and Davis invited the Cree drum group, Young Spirit, to perform. The group was formed in Frog Lake, Alberta and their musical style is traditional Cree round dancing songs. One of their songs, Red Rock Woman, is a favorite among the senior class.

“Even our shirts are inspired by one of their album covers,” Davis said. 

“We knew we needed to get Young Spirit down there and sing that song for the peers because they always enjoy it,” Begay said. “So, when we called all seniors out there and Young Spirit took off and they sang Red Rock Woman it was so amazing. We like to believe it is our class song because they really enjoy it.” 

The round dance also drew support from school staff, who recognized the significance of the event in promoting cultural awareness. Teachers, staff members and the principal were in attendance and applauding the Begay’s and Davis’ efforts to bring the senior class together.

As the graduating seniors prepare to embark on the next chapter of their lives, they are already forming plans to ensure this isn’t the last time this class celebrates together via round dance. 

“Hopefully we do it again in four years,” Davis said. 

“In four years, we’re going to be graduating from college and we’re inviting everyone to come back,” Begay said. “We’re going to have another one in four years for sure.”

“In four years, we’re going to be graduating from college and we’re inviting everyone to come back,”

– Dasan Begay

Madras High Senior

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