By Krystal Spring/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A cultural conference called "Report to the People" began this morning at Rocky Boy's Agency, kicking off a week of activities the Chippewa Cree Tribe has planned in celebration of Native American Week. Today's conference is geared toward motivating tribal members to perpetuate their culture and to inform the public about the cultural issues challenging the tribe.
The theme of this year's celebration is "Our Culture: Past, Present and Future," according to Beau Mitchell, Box Elder Creek watershed management coordinator with the Chippewa Cree Tribal Water Resources Department, which helped organize several of the week's activities.
"The goal of the week is education and fun," he said Friday.
Mitchell said the week's activities, which range from a fry bread cooking contest to a moccasin foot race, are aimed at increasing awareness of Native American culture and history. The public is strongly encouraged to attend the activities, he added.
"We want people to know who we are as a tribe and where we're going," Mitchell said.
Several educational events are planned for students in Box Elder and Rocky Boy schools.
"The events are important for kids as well as adults," he added. "We hope we can educate and raise awareness of Native American issues with both our people, and the surrounding community."
Here are some of the highlights of Native American Week in Rocky Boy:
Today: Traditional Dress Day
Report to the People - cultural conference begins at 8 a.m. at the old Stone Child College gymnasium, lasts all day; TANF logo contest begins - call 395-5814 for information.
Tuesday: Beadwork Day
Turkey shoot beginning at 9 a.m. at Vets Park; Soup contest at 11 a.m.; Hand drum singing at Vets Park at 1 p.m.; Relay run at 3 p.m. and 3-point shoot-out at 4 p.m. - call 395-4708 for details.
Wednesday: Braids Day
High-powered rifle shoot at 9 a.m. at Square Butte; Fry bread cooking contest at 11 a.m.; Whoop race at 2 p.m. - call Blue at 395-4818 for information; Ugly dog contest at 4 p.m.
Thursday: Moccasin Day
North Central Montana Sobriety Relay Challenge from Fort Belknap to Rocky Boy, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Moccasin foot race at 11 a.m.; Horse race at 1 p.m.; Soap Box Derby at 4 p.m.
Friday: Ribbon Shirt Day
Parade at 12 p.m. at Rocky Boy's Agency; Handgame Tourney at 6 p.m.
All events are free and open to the public. Call the Chippewa Cree Tribal Water Resources Department at 395-4225 for more information on the week's activities.
Also this week, the Fort Belknap community will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of its buffalo, which coincides with Native American Week.
Thirty years ago, the Assiniboine Tribe purchased 25 head of buffalo; now the tribe owns about 700 head. A celebration of the buffalo will take place Thursday at Snake Butte, near the buffalo pasture.
Festivities include horseshoes, mud tug of war, fun run and walk, boat races, traditional games, hide tanning demonstrations, taste testing, cooking demonstrations, round dance and the history of buffalo.
Anyone who has questions or needs more information about the event can call 353-8526.
A father and sons contemporary folk band from Helena is planning several concerts around the Hi-Line area to celebrate Native American heritage and remember the death of Chief Joseph, a great Nez Perce leader who is remembered for his "I will fight no more forever" speech. It marked the end of a nearly 1,200-mile running battle with U.S. Army troops in 1877.
Watercarvers Guild, led by Darrell Casey, will perform a new song titled "Remembering Joseph." The song attempts to musically capture the integrity of Chief Joseph and the emotions he felt while struggling to lead his people to safety, Casey said in a press release. It took several years for Casey to finish the composition. A 2004 grant from the Jerry Metcalf Foundation provided Casey with the money to finish the song and get it recorded. The song will be performed the first week of October in nine communities from Chinook to Sidney.
"A lot of people don't even know about the Nez Perce trail," Rose Casey, Darrell's wife and the group's manager, said Friday. "So this is a really great opportunity to raise awareness about a great piece of history."
Every year Nez Perce leaders travel from Idaho to Montana for memorial services at three battlefield sites along the Nez Perce Trail. The final memorial service for 2004 is scheduled for Oct. 2 at 10 a.m. at the Bear Paw Battlefield, 15 miles south of Chinook, where "Remembering Joseph" will be performed.
Call (406) 442-0417 for information on the concerts or to schedule a performance of "Remembering Joseph."