Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Mark Hebert

Coyotes join area schools for Native American Week activities


October 3, 2018

Mark Hebert

Dodson Coyote Conan CutsTheRope participates in the Grand Entry at the Native America Week Celebration Pow Wow at Hays-Lodgepole School on Thursday.

An estimated 1,200 students from several schools across Eastern Montana converged at Hays-Lodgepole School last Thursday for a Pow Wow, the exclamation point on the weeklong Native American Week celebration hosted by Fort Belknap.

Schools in attendance for the Pow Wow included Hays-Lodgepole, Chinook, Harlem, Mission Grade School, HeadStart schools from the area and Phillips County's own Dodson Public School which had every grade in attendance.

"I would like to thank all involved who help put this on," Dodson School's Wendy Hopkins told the crowd. "What a wonderful day this is. I would also like to thank a few ladies from our school, Deserae and Francine KillEagle for encouraging us to take part in this weeklong celebration. We are honored to be here."

Don Racine, an educator at Hays-Lodgepole Schools, said that the week-long celebration started on Monday in Harlem with Elementary Day and due to the weather, the event, which was to be held at Snake Butte, was moved indoors to Harlem Schools. Racine said the day's activities included 20 presenters who talked to some 600 children. Tuesday was dubbed Middle School Day and took place in the Mission Canyon in Hays and Wednesday was dedicated to high school students.

"Both of those days, we tried to keep the instruction as traditional as possible," Racine said. "The men came in and spoke to the boys and the women came in and spoke to the girls. They spoke of gender-specific things. Things they should know as a young man or young woman. A lot of wisdom was shared."

Racine said on Wednesday, male students at Middle School Day held classes in a circle, under an arbor sitting atop of buffalo robes and the girls held classes in a large teepee.

"What we have noticed in Hays-Lodgepole and Harlem is that our culture teachers are all male and our girls are not receiving what they need to as young women, so the information the girls were given was very well received," Racine said. "For some of them, it was a reiteration of what they have been taught by their parents and grandparents, but some have never heard those things and they loved it."

Racine said that one of the many highlights of the week included the reintroduction of the Grass Dance Ceremony, as relatives from the Siksika Nation from Alberta, Canada, transferred the ceremony back into Montana.

"Wednesday afternoon, in front of all of the high school children, they got to witness that," Racine said. "That ceremony is where Pow Wow comes from. That was the original form and it included our warriors."

Racine said that combining all the schools together for this year's Native American Week allows many students to see family, friends, and mentors that they wouldn't otherwise see during the school year.

"That is important because we are all the same people, no matter where they go to school, they are all related some way, somehow," he said. "We want to give our children that opportunity."

Weather once again pushed the festivities inside on Thursday morning and Hays-Lodgepole School's Principal Beth Kendall said she was happy to see so many schools in attendance.

Mark Hebert

Dodson School seventh grader Imagin Fox, who celebrated her 12th birthday last Friday, at the Native American Week Pow Wow in Hays last Thursday.

"Come one, come all," she said. "We haven't had this many people here at one time in my three years here and we love to exercise our hospitality."

The Thunderbird's gymnasium was filled to capacity with students and family for the day's Pow Wow. The day began with the Grand Entry which featured all the students making their entrance into the building, making two circles around the auditorium before taking their seats.

Ray Gone gave an opening address for the beginning of the Grand Entry, saying his heart was happy to see so many people at such a historic event.

"I never thought I would get to see this day, and I am thankful that I have," Gone said. "It has been such an honor and privilege to take part in this week and being able to speak to some classes. I ask that each and every one of you pray in your own way and ask the Creator to bless this day."


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