Havre Daily News
ROCKY BOY'S INDIAN RESERVATION - For six days beginning this week, Rocky Boy will have a traditional encampment where participants will speak only Cree. The Cree Language Institute, which Louise Stump directs out of Stone Child College, is sponsoring the camp, which runs Wednesday through next Monday in conjunction with the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery II events at Rocky Boy.
"Most other tribes are really losing their language and I feel we are too," Stump said about her reasons for organizing the camp. "They are shocked by the loss of elders that are passing."
On Wednes-day, participants will set up tepees and then sleep in the camp they've made, she said. Sixty people of all ages have already signed up, and Stump said she has 22 teachers ready to help out.
Stump said she is glad to have interest from people throughout the community, but she hopes the youth, in particular, benefit from it.
"The kids are embarrassed to use their language, and we need to do something about that," Stump said.
Participants will eat and sleep in the encampment without any modern amenities, she said. An exception will be made for elders who may be more comfortable sleeping at home.
The institute had a small grant through the National Park Service to teach tepee making last month in preparation for the encampment, Stump said.
The Rocky Boy tribal council on Thursday agreed to give the institute $11,750 to pay the week's instructors and buy food for participants.
Chairman John "Chance" Houle recalled that the tribe wasn't able to support a similar proposal in the past and said he wanted to support it this time.
"I think this is a good way to get them pointed in the right direction," he said about the effect on youths.
Council member Jonathan Windy Boy said he hopes the institute will be able to keep track of the success of the project and give the tribe an idea of how many speakers it has.
Stump agreed that should be part of the institute's mission.
Rocky Boy has only a few speakers of the Chippewa language, Stump said, but the institute is sponsoring a lecture about that language during Corps II.
Corps II, a traveling National Park Service exhibit commemorating the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery, will be at the Sybil Sangrey Colliflower rodeo groups in Box Elder from Friday through next Monday. Corps II will include many presentations by Rocky Boy residents.
After thanking the council for its help, and before leaving, Stump left them with some instruction too.
"You guys need to start using Cree too," she said.