The Pow Wow Drums Calls To Autistic Young Dancer

Posted By Paul G August 9th, 2016 Last Updated on: September 8th, 2017

This past weekend I followed the social media posts of Wayne Silas Jr. during the Menominee Nation Pow Wow.  The pride from this father beamed through his posts.  This was a story we had to share!

From Wayne Silas Jr.:

My son Jaxten was diagnosed with Autism when he was about 3 yrs old. His first form of communication was sign language.  He was placed on a two-year waiting list for WEAP (Wisconsin Early Autism Program). While waiting, he developed his own language. He made up words that only person could understand, his sister Kitahna.

When his therapy started,  he slowly started repeating words he heard on movies, TV shows, & songs. His artistic expressions were one of his main forms of communication. Since he could walk, he was always intrigued by the Pow Wow drums and singing. He constantly watched drum groups sing at every Pow Wow.  Most of the drum groups have recognized him for that and can feel his magnetic passion for the drum. Some have even handed him a drum stick & invited him to sit down.

His mother and I have  never forced dancing on him or any of our children.  We waited for them to express their interest. A few weeks ago while at a powwow in Prairie Island, MN he kept saying that he wanted to get dressed whenever it was time for us to do so. He asked for his “feathers” as he refers to outfits. The following week he wanted to go dance a couple intertribals and for tiny tots. Then last week in Mt Pleasant, MI during a switch dance contest that his sister Micayla was dancing in, Jax asked if he could go dance. I told him to go ahead. He sprinted out next to his sister & danced his little heart out! Then he asked me for his “feathers”. I knew he was referring to HIS regalia as to say ‘Where's mine? Since my brother & sisters always have theirs! ”

Luckily, he has a loving family who all pitched in to help get him dressed up for the following weekend. His Uncle Erwin Morris made his Otter Cap. I fixed his moccasins. I had gotten his beadwork a few years earlier waiting for this moment so it was good to go. His mother, Rose Track sewed his ribbon shirt (Mickey Mouse – his all time favorite), his floral aprons, & leggings. His Uncle Chris Stoltman gave him his dance stick (a rifle stock war club) which Jax & I decorated with a couple painted feathers. He wears a Quill work harness & belt which was part of my childhood regalia made by a very young Sam Begay. He still has more regalia to wear yet including Bells given to him by Chris Stoltman.

When we dressed him Friday night at The Menominee Woodland Bowl for the annual Menominee Nation Powwow, he was a little uncomfortable. He quickly became used to it. He didn't want to dance grand entries, but instead watched the drums as he has always done at Powwows. Then when it was close to the Jr categories to dance, he was tired and resting at the cars. His sisters had just finished dancing in their respective categories and immediately went to Jax to tell him it was his turn to dance. He jumped up, asked for his feathers (dance stick) & ran to the arena. When he danced, he told his story. He told his little traditional Woodland Warrior story.

The next days to follow, he did the same thing and added to his story. He even danced in a sneak-up and portrayed a warrior scouting the enemy… Or on a hunt…. Utilizing the trees in the Woodland Bowl as cover. My heart was full of happiness & my eyes filled with tears of joy.

When the Powwow was over, the traveling song was being sung. Jax stopped playing with his siblings and ran to the arena and he danced. He finished the song by running towards the drum and doing what he has all this time…. he watched the drum group sing.

There's more wonder produced from this young man and from his multiple obstacles that he continues to overcome. He makes the grumpy person smile and the hardest, toughest person cry! That's my son, Jaxten Phoenix Silas! Nae mae kisaeh (Little Thunder)

The drum calls to everyone!  Thanks to Wayne and his family for sharing their story.

Can't wait to watch more videos of this family dancing together.

#‎autismspeaks‬ ‪#‎jaxtensilas‬

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Jacquelin Harris (Little Fox)

Aho from Fargo North Dakota! I loved this story thank you so much!


Yes…the drums calls to everyone. Wen I,as a non-Indian hear the the drums,I do this everytime with tears in my eyes. WhatsApp a nice and powerful energy. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

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