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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 3, 2003 - Issue 86


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New Wakina Store Teaches Indian Children a Variety of Disciplines

by Shawn White Wolf Helena Independent Record Staff Reporter

A new downtown Helena business called the Wakina Store opened its doors for the first time Friday for students of the Wakina Sky after-school program.

Wakina Sky is a nonprofit organization designed to provide an academic and cultural bridge to meet the needs of American Indian children in the urban community.

There are a few requirements, however, in order to shop at the Wakina Store.

First, customers must acquire "Wakina Bucks" by demonstrating improved grades. And they must have managed an earnings and savings plan in order to purchase that special something at the Wakina Store.

"This will teach students the importance of adding, subtracting and keeping a balance of their savings," said Carol Mason, executive director of the Wakina Sky.

Wakina Sky Program
Mason, along with the Wakina Sky staff, has been extremely busy this spring planning and implementing new curriculum for students.

Whether it's the planning for an academic theme of the month, lessons in moccasin designing and making, poetry, art, dancing, singing, drumming or traditional costume designing, Wakina Sky students are busier than ever learning valued traditions and customs of American Indian life yesterday and today.

New additions to the staff at the Wakina Sky include Mason, executive director and Blackfeet tribal member; Tammara Rosenleaf, academic support teacher; Debbie Herrington, interim outreach/cultural coordinator and Chippewa tribal member; Adrian Harrison, teacher assistant and Paiute tribal member. Louise Harris serves as a foster grandparent.

Poetry Class
In March, Wakina Sky students had the opportunity to create and write their own poetry with the help and assistance of two Helena High School English students and a teacher.

Moccasin Class
Wakina Sky kicked off a moccasin class last month started by Herrington.

"The moccasin class has helped to understand measurements by sizing and measuring your feet," said Mason.

She said the students are learning more about math by designing and creating their own pair of moccasins with brain-tanned hides.

The class ends in May and the students will be able to take their moccasins home.

Fund Raisers Planned
Mason said various fund-raisers are in the works, including a Helena American Indian Art Market, which would bring both northwestern and southwestern American Indian artists to Helena.

Mason said that already some nationally recognized Indian artists have agreed to come to Helena.

She said she is looking for sponsors of various activities during the art market to help offset some of the costs. All the proceeds of the art market would benefit Wakina Sky students.

The art market is being planned during the month of September since the Helena community pow wow is held during that month.

Members Sought
Members are being sought for the Wakina Sky Board of Directors and the art market committee. Mason said if someone has a humanitarian belief in education, culture and kids, then the Wakina Sky doors are open. She said Wakina Sky is interested in the power of learning.

Wakina Sky is located at 436 N. Jackson St., or call 449-0318.

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