Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
June 3, 2000-Issue 11

Native American Youth Group Visits D.C.
by Korey Karnes from The Billings Gazette

For 10 members of Native Reign, the last four days in Washington have been a dream come true. The Northern Cheyenne youths toured the Capitol, met Sen. Max Baucus, visited the White House and became part of history.

Native Reign has been spreading a drug-free message to schools and organizations for the past five years. Last year, Baucus asked the group to document its organization for the Library of Congress’s Local Legacies Project. The project will amass examples of heritage and culture in all 50 states. Twelve hundred groups, including five others from Montana, were selected to participate.

“We asked members of Congress to recommend traditional practices and customs in their district for a snapshot of America at the turn of the century,” said Craig D’Ooge, a library spokesman.

Recording lifestyles
Local Legacy participants spent a year recording unique lifestyles, festivals and parades, historical events and various occupations in their communities. This week all the participants met in Washington to view other projects and meet their sponsors.

“It has been so cool,” said 14-year-old Andrea Elkshoulder of Lame Deer. “It is a great opportunity that not a lot of people get to experience. The best part was seeing the Lincoln Memorial.”

The Local Legacies project was part of the library’s Bicentennial Celebration. Native Reign’s contribution to the project included a seven-page report, 30 color photographs; several newspaper articles; an audio cassette and four videos of their dances and skits. After being catalogued, Native Reign’s project will join the library’s American Folklife Center. Projects ranged from ethnic pride and funerals to cowboy poetry and salmon barbecuing.

“This group makes positive lifestyle choices,” said Robyn Bisonette, 21, a Native Reign member. “The whole trip is a big reward for being in Native Reign.”

The group’s purpose is to promote respect for the environment, its traditional culture and a lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol. It has performed at schools and assemblies throughout the Western United States and Canada.

“We want to show that we live like you and have the same struggles,” said Jonathan Bisonette, 26. “We just want to promote our heritage.”

Rachel Mears, a University of Montana graduate who is the project’s collection processor, said the library was overwhelmed by local response.

“I think it was like planning a party,” she said. “We invited a lot of people but did not think that everyone was going to come. We were amazed at the number of entries.”

Montana’s other projects included: The Metis Project-When They Awoke; St. Ignatius High School with the “History of Farming and Ranching;” “Montana Horse Story” by Helena residents Allison and Joshua Collins; “Montana Is” by Mike Logan of Helena; and Libby High School-Documenting Local History.

Native Reign

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