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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 6, 2002 - Issue 58


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Northern Cheyenne Tribal School Needs You!

The Cheyenne Flag Song and Ceremony during the Native American Day celebration at Northern Cheyenne Tribal School.
The Cheyenne Flag Song and Ceremony during the Native American Day celebration at Northern Cheyenne Tribal School.A few months ago I put out a call for assistance to be directed to the Northern Cheyenne Tribal School in Busby, MT. Since that time, there have been several donations sent in to the school. I have been told that Christmas presents, usable winter clothing in good condition, as well as some funds have been sent to the school. On March 20th, I and fellow Texas AIM (formerly South East Texas AIM) co-founder Lawrence Sampson (Delaware/ Eastern Band Cherokee) returned from a trip to the campus. We went there to drop-off clothing donations as well as some computers.

While there, we were taken on a tour that provided an extensive view of the specific needs of these 202 school children. One of the first things that stood out in our minds was the art department. It's no secret that we, as Native people, seem to be blessed with artistic creativity. These children are no exception. We saw amazing pieces of art work. The most noticeable of all the pieces of art work was on the ceiling. At some point, being badly under funded, the teacher instructed the children to take down the ceiling tiles to paint on. They had run out of all other materials and were left with this last resort.

Nevertheless, they painted some of the most amazing art work I've seen... on ceiling tiles. One of the art students was having two pieces sent of to a museum in Arizona, another had just won a nation-wide contest that drew over 700 contestants. There, amongst drastic conditions, were true signs of cultural pride and hope. This is all the more remarkable when you take into consideration the art teacher's testimony that, in her 26 years of teaching, 77 students have died. Died from suicides, died from drug abuse, died from alcoholism, died from car wrecks,... dead and gone forever before they could even finish High School. The one thing that gets many of them through the day is art class. It is one of the only places where they can express themselves in a positive way. That is, when they have the materials to use. They badly need art supplies.

Another thing that we noticed was the sparse "Library". The library which served the entire school was nothing but bare shelves with minimal paperback volumes. I couldn't believe how empty those shelves were. There is a great need for books in good condition. There is a sharpness to alot of these kids. Despite all the handicaps, they are some extremely intelligent children. I'd like to see that nurtured by additional resources, such as books. In the cafeteria, two women were all that was left after budget cuts to cook, clean, and serve the kids. Leonard told us that the lunchtime meal that was served was sometimes the best meal of the entire day for some of those kids. He made a statement that Monday's were the most depressing. Some of those kids come in from the weekends very hungry, he told us.

We spent the day with Leonard Elkshoulder. He not only showed us around the school,introducing us to faculty and students alike, but he gave us a good breakdown of the history of the school. Up until the early 1970's, it served as one of the areas boarding schools. He showed us were the barracks once stood. Not far from there, across the street from the school, he pointed out a house known as the "Rosebud House". This has nothing to do with the Rosebud reservation, it is named after the Rosebud Valley which is where Busby is located. He told us that it was a home for abandoned children. Somewhere around eighteen children are presently housed there. Some of those were students at the school. I can think of few things as tragic, as deeply moving, and as depressing as the necessity of a "abandoned children's home".

The following day, we were able to again meet with Leonard Elkshoulder, as well as the basketball coaches, and the school's superintendent Bonnie Granboise. Mrs. Granboise assured us that "everything sent to the school is given to the children." Furthermore, Leonard Elkshoulder added that they were taken off to the side, to Mr. Elkshoulder's office space where the items are stored, to take what's available in complete discretion. This alleviates other children feeling left out, or the recipients feeling embarrassed. The clothes have been coming in, but need to continue to do so. Fortunately, we have good prospects for providing the kids with "Back to School" clothes.

The March/ April issue of Native Peoples magazine (on shelves now) features an article on the Native owned and operated clothing company Native Threads (on page 14). This article provides a brief mention of the school. On page 16, however, there is a full page ad dedicated to their new "Heartbeat of Native America" T-shirt. The following is an excerpt from that ad:

"Native Threads will donate a portion of the proceeds from this special edition, "Heartbeat of Native America" T-shirt to benefit more than 200 children at the Northern Cheyenne Tribal School in Busby,Montana."

This same ad will be featured in their new catalogue. The proceeds will go to cover the cost of back to school clothes, that Native Threads has agreed to supply. It goes without saying that we are very excited to announce this development. You can find this at:

I want to think everyone whose helped in sending what they could to the school. They have told us many times just how appreciative they are. Further, I would ask everyone to continue to do what you can to support these impoverished children. They need all the assistance they can get. Art supplies, library books, winter weather clothing, funds, and much more are badly needed, and greatly appreciated. I thank you all for your continued interest, and ask for your continued support. Once again, the address and contact information are:

Aho/ Nea'ese
Dave Bailey
Northern Cheyenne
Texas AIM (formerly South East Texas AIM)
Northern Cheyenne Tribal School
c/o Leonard Elkshoulder or Bonnie Granboise
1 Campus Drive
P.O. Box 150
Busby, MT. 59016
Busby, MT Map

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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