Girls donate celebration money to victims in terrorist attacks

Posted: Monday, September 17, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Shirley and Sophie Bell -- dressed in pink and blue regalia dresses -- danced to celebrate life and the world of possibilities ahead.

With their heads high, the Bell girls danced around the circle of drummers and singers gathered Saturday for the celebration at an Anchorage gym. But on their minds were the victims of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Shirley, 12, and Sophie, 15, were honored with a powwow celebrating their traditional coming into womanhood. Their father, Frank Bell, is a Tlingit, and mother Diane Bell is Athabaskan.

For weeks, the family had been planning this intertribal event, which included a Tlingit blanket dance in which the girls collect money and give it away to people important to them. After terrorists crashed hijacked commercial jets into the twin towers and the Pentagon on Tuesday, the girls decided they would give the money to aid the victims.

''I know it's the right thing to do,'' Shirley said.

Sophie said it was the least she and her sister could do.

''Some of those kids don't have parents anymore,'' she said. ''We just wanted to help out any way we could.''

She said events like this powwow are about bringing people from different cultures together.

''It's about accepting people,'' she said. ''Every powwow I go to, I've met new friends and new people.''

Frank Bell beamed with pride as he watched his daughters dance. At day's end, they had collected $1,018 to donate to the Red Cross.

''This week has been overwhelming. We wanted them to do this to show us that we can carry on,'' he said.

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