BOY'S INDIAN RESERVATION - A group of young people on the Rocky
Boy's Indian Reservation is getting a hands- on lesson in their
own tribe's culture this week at Pah-Nah-To Park - Rocky Boy's
7,500-acre recreation area south of Beaver Creek Park.
park was recently renamed in honor of Pah-Nah-To, who was instrumental
in securing a home for the Chippewa and Cree people.
camp organizers said it's important for the youth to learn about
people like Pah-Nah-To and other influential ancestors of their
tribe who helped shape the history and culture of the Chippewa and
ways as Indian people are very important to us," said Jason
Belcourt, who's helping lead the youth camp. "We're trying
to get our youth involved in our culture again, and this youth camp
is one way to do that."
camp's schedule of events includes a number of activities, such
as talks by tribal elders, a hike up Mount Baldy, a lesson in medicinal
plant identification, fishing and a horseback riding lesson. Camp
organizers said they tried to mix a number of fun and educational
activities together to keep the kids interested.
got a lot of activities planned," camp leader Virgil Chief
Stick said. "I think that's what attracted the kids, is all
the fun things we have planned for them."
instructor Shawn Big Knife was taking the campers on trail rides
throughout Pah-Nah-To Park Wednesday and today. Big Knife said he
was thrilled to take part in the camp and work with the kids, most
of whom had never been on a horse.
was this little boy that didn't want to ride alone," Big Knife
said. "So I led him about halfway and then by the end of the
ride he was having a ball and forgot all about being scared."
Knife said the campers were "all smiles" when they returned
to camp after the trail ride.
kids between the ages of 11 and 14 attended the week-long camp that
started Monday and will run through Friday.
accepted the kids on a first-come, first-served basis," Chief
Stick said. "We had people knocking on our doors to try and
get into the camp but we could only take 32."
youth camp is organized and put on by the Rocky Boy Parks and Recreation
Department. Belcourt said the camp budget totalled $16,000 - but
those costs weren't passed on to the youth campers.
the kids we accepted for the camp received scholarships this year,"
Belcourt said. "The scholarships cover the cost of the entire
camp for the kids."
kids attended the camp for free thanks to the generosity of several
Rocky Boy tribal agencies that donated either money or services
to the youth camp.
couldn't have done it without the support of the community,"
Belcourt said. "They helped make this camp possible."
going all out," Chief Stick said. "We have sweat lodges,
elder talks and just an overall cultural orientation."
said this type of teaching with the youth is vital to the "cultural
survival" of the Chippewa Cree.
trying to pass on our culture to the young people," Belcourt
said. "It's up to them to pass it on to future generations."
said this is the first youth camp of its kind in Rocky Boy, but
they hope to continue the camps next year.