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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


August 11, 2001 - Issue 42


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Rocky Boy's Embraces its Kids


 by Jennifer Perez Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer-August 3, 2001


Tribune photos by Mark Sterkel
Youngsters play Confusion during National Tribal Kids Day at Rocky Boy Thursday.

ROCKY BOY'S RESERVATION, MT -- Thursday was a special day, designed to help strengthen the cultural ties for children on the Rocky Boy's Reservation.

More than 200 kids were at the Rocky Boy powwow grounds for the first annual National Tribal Kids Day, a health symposium and the fourth annual youth powwow.

"It's important, because we can learn about our culture, so we don't lose our Chippewa Cree ways," said Leanna Writing Bird, 11, of Rocky Boy.

The festivities kicked off for the 37th annual Rocky Boy's Powwow that begins today.

Thursday's all-day event, called "Dancing with our Mother Earth," began with a morning pipe ceremony conducted by Ken Writing Bird and with motivational speeches by star basketball players and tribal members.

In the afternoon, the kids got their faces painted and played games. There was a scavenger hunt, a circle game called Confusion, parachute jumps and an egg toss. There also was a mini basketball camp and a 3-on-3 tournament at Stone Child College.

"Sometimes kids don't get to go anywhere," said Francis Eagle Man, 11, of Rocky Boy, the head young woman dancer at the youth powwow. "It's a way kids can hang out, eat, play games, have fun and dance."

The youth powwow is supposed to be fun for the kids; it isn't as formal as the regular powwow, said Lance Parker, former committee member.

Last year there were about 60 dancers, at least 100 dancers are expected this year, he said.

Elinor Nault-Wright, of Rocky Boy, and coordinator of the Middle School Drug Prevention and Safe Schools program, said the powwow committee started the youth powwow four years ago because there were too many kids not dancing at the annual powwow.

"We wanted to try to get them back into dancing, and the (the youth powwow) has been building every year since then," she said.

Since the youth powwow began in 1997, the committee has paid all of the dancing participants. This year, when the committee was going to pay only the dancers who placed, Nault-Wright decided she wanted to keep the tradition alive.

Her granddaughter, 10-month-old Lillian Dawn Gopher, will be initiated into the powwow as a jingle dress dancer, so the family is going to honor her by paying all the dancers.

"That was the whole purpose behind the youth powwow, to get all the kids back into the dancing arena," she said.

The payout for those who place in the junior contests and specials was $3,000.

"Today's powwow is really commercialized, so a lot of the youths' self-esteem isn't high enough to want to dance against the highly skilled dancers," she said. "This is a way to get them back into dancing."

One of the main focuses of the day was to honor the youth and show them they are special, get parents involved and get the youth involved with the simple things in life, said Natalie Flores, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Bears Paw.

The Boys and Girls Club of America, 4-H, and Boy and Girl Scouts has declared Sunday National Kid's Day.

"We made (Thursday Tribal Kids' Day) because Aug. 5 was on a Sunday and we wanted it before the powwow," said Mike Geboe, Box Elder coordinator of Boys and Girls Club and of the Gang Awareness program.

 Maps by Travel

Rocky Boy's Reservation
The Rocky Boy Reservation differs in several respects from the other Indian reservations in Montana. It is the smallest reservation and the home of the smallest group of Indians. Unlike the other reservations, Rocky Boy was not established by treaty, but by Executive Order in 1916. It was the last Indian reservation to be established in Montana.

Rocky Boy Chippewa-Cree Reservation
Located in north-central Montana, the Rocky Boy's Reservation consists of 120,000 acres which range from rolling high-plains grasslands to the sub-alpine environment of the Bear Paw Mountains.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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