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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 3, 2001 - Issue 48


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 Students in Lame Deer Now Study Tribal Government


 by James Hagengruber-Billings Gazette-October 29, 2001

Like other students in Montana, students at Lame Deer High School are required to learn about the Bill of Rights, the Civil War and the Gold Rush.

Steve Brady Sr., a teacher at the school and a Northern Cheyenne tribal member, thought students should also be given lessons on the Council of 44, the Dog Soldiers, the Indian Reorganization Act and recent changes to their tribe's constitution.

But there was one problem in developing a lesson plan.

"There’s no textbook," Brady said.

Brady attended conferences, listened to elders, read books, met with fellow educators and drew upon his own knowledge to design a tribal government education course for Lame Deer High School students.

The school board decided last year to require the course for all students, he said. Lame Deer High School is the only school on a Montana Indian reservation that requires students to study tribal government, Brady said.

Brady presented information on his course to participants at the National Indian Education Association meeting Sunday in Billings. His workshop included a copy of the course curriculum.

Students begin by studying traditional Cheyenne forms of government and learning about important battles, great leaders and sacred sites. Treaties, federal Indian policy and the reservation system are then studied. The class takes students to the present day by analyzing the tribe's current form of government and issues facing the tribe.

Cheyenne language, law dictionaries and interactive media are used to guide the students through the weighty topics. Brady said he hopes the course will produce "more informed tribal citizens."

"This definitely makes them more interested in their tribal governments," he said.

Brady hopes the class will provoke students to look for ways to improve their tribe.

"The system we have was given to us in 1934," Brady said. "The system that exists now is not the system we have to live with."

     Maps by Travel

Cheyenne Dog Soldiers
According to Cheyenne tradition, there was once a prophet named Sweet Medicine who taught his people how to conduct themselves. He set up a council of 44 chiefs to speak for all the Cheyenne, and presented them with four Sacred Arrows, two to subdue their human enemies, two to make the buffalo fall before them.

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