Band emits message through music
WORTHINGTON -- Eighth-graders from five area schools learned about community and respect through story and rock 'n' roll Tuesday. Brul?, whose leader, Paul LaRoche, is formerly of Worthington, played at the Eighth Grade Integration Retreat, spons...
WORTHINGTON -- Eighth-graders from five area schools learned about community and respect through story and rock 'n' roll Tuesday.
Brulé, whose leader, Paul LaRoche, is formerly of Worthington, played at the Eighth Grade Integration Retreat, sponsored by the Nobles County Integration Collaborative. Students from Fulda, Ellsworth, Adrian and Round Lake-Brewster filled the gym of West Elementary and listened to the band's contemporary Native American music, which featured drums, keyboard, flute, guitar and vocals.
Then, LaRoche told his story, punctuated with music and song.
"Worthington, back in its younger days, was not very culturally diverse. The black community was represented by two families. There was one Native American family," LaRoche said, adding that he and his friends "made life difficult" for the Native American boy.
LaRoche didn't know he was Native American. His parents had always told him he was French-Canadian, and it wasn't until after they died that he discovered he wasn't.
So close to his parents' death, LaRoche didn't want to know anything about his birth family, but his wife, Kathy, worked behind the scenes, investigating. Five years later, he got a phone call.
"Hey, bro," said the voice on the other end of the line. "You're Lakota. You're Sioux."
It was a shock, but since then, LaRoche has learned to live as a Native American as well as a son of the Summerses from Worthington.
Now, LaRoche plays with his son, Shane, and his daughter, Nicole, in the Brulé.
Band member Moses Brings Plenty had a different childhood on the Pine Ridge Reservation, one of the poorest places in the United States. There was no electricity and no running water.
Brings Plenty was raised in the Lakota traditions.
"I was Indian when Indian was not cool," Brings Plenty told eighth-graders Tuesday.
He explained several Native American traditions to the students.
"We pierce our ears because we want to make a sacrifice to hear truth," Brings Plenty said. "We grow our hair long ... it represents spiritual growth."
He emphasized the way all the people in the gym were human beings, with their hearts in the same places, and that all people should be respected.
"Life is a circle," Brings Plenty said. "If we don't respect others, we sure as heck can't be respected. ... Go represent your nation of people with respect and honesty."