Western Heritage Center
The Western Heritage Center is a regional history museum, educational center, and public archives. The mission of the Western Heritage Center is to “tell the stories of the peoples of the Yellowstone River Valley and the Northern High Plains” in ways that help broaden our understanding of the region, our histories and ourselves. The work done by the American Tribal Histories Project, a program of the Western Heritage Center, furthers this mission by concentrating on the histories and cultures of Montana’s Native Americans. The American Indian Tribal Histories Project encourages tribal members to tell their own stories, with their own voices, and share their perspectives with the world. The Project goals are to collect the most accurate information from respected sources, present it in a variety of ways intended to reach many audiences, preserve the oral histories, photographs and documentation using professional standards, and share the information with everyone. The first phase of an educational project being conducted by the Western Heritage Center, Stone Child College and Chippewa-Cree tribal members is nearing completion. All interested parties, tribal and community members are invited to see the progress that has been made so far. Thirty-one, unedited, video-recorded interviews of Chippewa-Cree tribal members will be available to view starting on Jan. 18 and 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 114 of Sitting Old Woman Hall on the Stone Child College campus. Later this winter, the interviews will be edited and used to produce educational programs. Francine Spang, project director, Lloyd Top Sky, field director, Rubie Sooktis, production coordinator, and a focus group consisting of employees of Stone Child College and Chippewa-Cree tribal members, held meetings starting in February 2006 to develop an outline of topics and nominate interviewees who are knowledgeable in specific topics, for the educational materials. The interviews were recorded between October and December 2006. The majority of the interviews are in the Cree language. The public will be able to view the unedited interviews, as well as a list of the interviewees’ names and details of each interview, including dates and topics. Additionally, the entire list of topics developed by the focus group and the questions each interviewee was asked will be available. Lloyd Top Sky will be on hand to answer questions. The entire project encompasses the creation of four, half-hour programs, produced on DVDs and accompanied by a Teachers Resource Guide for use in educational settings; information on the Western Heritage Center Web site; digital archives of the oral history interviews and associated materials; and public outreach programs. The Teachers Resource Guide will contain outlines, images, biographies and grade-appropriate lesson plans for teachers’ use in their classrooms, developed by area teachers. The digital Oral Histories Archive Collection, will include all of the information, images, interviews, and completed work, stored according to professional museum archival standards. The interviews will be available in the unedited versions on DVD at Stone Child College. For more information, call Lloyd Top Sky (406) 395-3100.