McCLURE - The man standing at the front of the room donned a small turtle shell pouch, brightly colored arm cuffs and a loud feather headdress. His traditional American Indian regalia stood out among dress slacks and collared shirts, but his message was one of unity.
Frank Wilson Angelo, of McClure, spent Thursday morning presenting his Powhatan and Cherokee heritage to the students of Mifflin County Christian Academy.
"What I'm wearing is considered my Sunday best," he said. "Everything I'm wearing has a story with it."
Sentinel photo by JULIANNE CAHILL
Frank Wilson Angelo, of McClure, shows students the image of a dancer worn into stone during a presentation about American Indian culture Thursday at Mifflin County Christian Academy.
From a handmade porcupine quill bracelet to his signature dancing fan, Angelo could recall where he obtained each relic or who gifted it to him. Two particularly special pieces were a photo of his late father and his son's last cigarette butt.
"My son passed away at 23 ... he travels (with me) everywhere I go to dance," Angelo said.
When he is dressed in his traditional regalia, the photo and cigarette butt are carried in pouches around his neck.
While students considered how different American Indian culture may seem, Angelo turned his message to one thing that brings everyone together: God.
"The native people believed in the creator. They believed in God," he said.
Angelo held an eagle's feather in front of him and pointed to the dark, fragile tip. He explained that the dark color symbolized those who walked a "dark journey" without God in their life. Like the top of the feather, he said those people are weak and fall easily to the temptations of Satan's bad spirit. Angelo said the dark path is not without hope though, and people can choose to turn their lives around.
"As you walk back toward God, then you're connecting with him. It takes a lot to break that," he said, while sliding his hand down and pointing to the lighter, stronger base of the feather.
Angelo told the students his face painting had similar meaning. The right side of his face was painted black for the dark journey. On his left side - above his heart - his face was painted white to symbolize a good journey with God.
"Is Christ the focus of your life?" he asked the students.
As Angelo, also known as "Two Otters," closed his presentation, he left the students with one final story.
"Laminin is an adhesion molecule that holds every cell in your body together," he said.
The scientific description of laminin is a cross; the symbol of the greatest gift God gave us, he said. When it's magnified, he said you can see two hands and two feet on it.
"We are fearfully and wonderfully made," Angelo said. "There is no such thing as evolution. You can't take a stone and turn it into anything."
Also during the presentation, students saw a traditional hunting dance and heard an American Indian story.