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Bear teaches local students about ‘Lessons and Lore of the Calusa’

May 30, 2018
Special to The Eagle ( , Pine Island Eagle

Being different can become something special. Cindy Bear, coordinator of Randell Research Center, was able to articulate this, and much more, in "Lessons and Lore of the Calusa," a cultural education outreach program conducted at Bayshore Elementary School for over 600 students, as part of their annual "Survivor Week" activities.

Using a fast paced mix of lecture, visual slide presentation, artifact show and tell, and interactive theater, children were able to learn about the ancient civilization that existed in our very own back yards.

The Calusa revered the lightning whelk which, unlike most snails, opens to the left, and when viewed from the top, spirals clockwise. This relates directly to the east-motion movement of the sun, and signified light to darkness, birth to death.

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Ndakhte Ndiaye, left, and Cindy Bear.


Evidence of this important belief concept was reflected in the Calusas' synchronized dancing ceremonies, hut construction and even the seating of tribal elders.

Something "different" became something "special," and was integral to the Calusa way of life and survival.

Master drummer and dance choreographer Ndakhte Ndiaye, along with her drummers Claudia Jennings and Sir Lawrence Kimball, provided the program's musical grand finale, which included drumming, dancing and the use of hand-carved drums, costumes and accessories.

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Ndakhte Ndiaye, a Pine Island resident, offers African Drum classes, cultural workshops and performances and will be conducting a county-wide series of African Drum & Dance workshops over the summer. She can be reached at

Bear can be reached at Randell Research Center in Pineland, 13810 Waterfront Dr, Bokeelia, FL 33922; 239-283-2157; or by emailing



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