Opening a new school and building the community is exciting work! When the school is named after someone important, like Little Raven Elementary School, knowing about that person becomes a vital part of the community’s identity.
Who better to tell the staff and students about Little Raven than his descendants and members of his Tribe? Nine representatives from the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribe in Oklahoma were able to make it out to Little Raven Elementary to participate in a schoolwide assembly on Friday, August 25, 2023: Little Raven’s grandsons, Chief Rory Littleraven, Troy Littleraven, and Dennis Littleraven (also known as Grey Eagle); Chief Rory Litteraven’s daughters, Brianna and Anna Littleraven; Chester Whiteman; Fred and Mary Mosqueda; and Stephen Fletcher.
All nine introduced themselves to the students and staff. Chief Rory Littleraven said, “You honor us by being here and helping our grandfather’s name live on.”
Mr. Fred Mosqueda then told the students about Little Raven’s life, he shared some words of encouragement in the Arapaho language, and he performed the song that was created for Little Raven when he became Chief at the age of 23. Students were on their feet during the song, which was accompanied by a drum that the Tribal guests brought with them. Students began to stomp their feet with the beat of the drum, which caused some anxiety among staff members–would this be considered disrespectful? After the assembly, Chief Rory Littleraven assured school leaders that it was not. He said, “That is [Little Raven’s] heartbeat. That is how we know he is here.”
After the assembly, school leaders went outside for a cedar-burning cleansing ceremony led by Mr. Chester Whiteman. When asked about the blend that was burned along with the cedar, he said, “It would take me 30 years to explain it, because that blend is 30 years in the making. The man who made it told me when I picked it up that this would be the last time he made it and the responsibility is now mine.”
Tribal representatives brought gifts for the school, which will be displayed in a place of honor in the school’s front entrance. Mrs. Case then took them on a tour of Little Raven Elementary School. Mr. Fred Mosqueda helped choose the names for each of the grade-level pods, each representing something about Little Raven.
Little Raven Elementary School cherishes this special relationship with Little Raven’s family and Tribe, and the school community was honored to host such special guests.