Krista Corner Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rocky Boy Tourism Center opened last week with two businesses for tourists looking to treasure hunt. Aside from being a haven for Native American culture, the businesses should be good for the tribe, according to business owners. The center had grand opening ceremonies Wednesday celebrating the opening of the Square Butte Trading Post and the Rocky Boy Arts & Crafts Cooperative. The businesses share the space and both opened their doors to the public June 10. Square Butte Trading Post, a store selling Native American clothing, occupies one-half of the building. Owners Luanne Belcourt and Elsie Geboe received a $5,000 small business grant from the Chippewa-Cree tribe and a $7,000 small business grant from the Montana Department of Commerce to start up their business. "We're so pleased that we're going to be able to contribute to economic development of Rocky Boy and have an outlet for all the terrific artists out here," said Belcourt. "For years we've dreamt about this. We've wanted to develop something and it's finally coming to be." The other half of the building houses the Rocky Boy Arts & Crafts Cooperative, where Native American artists and crafters can now display and sell their wares. Isabell Dotts manages the co-op and handles the selling and promotion of the work. "Beaders, master carvers a lot of people out here that do quality work just get a small amount of money enough to buy gas or buy Pampers," Belcourt said, adding that with the addition of the co-op, "now our people will benefit. It's a win-win situation." The trading post offers many unique Native American items for people, including buckskin, squaw, jingle and ribbon dresses; custom-made jackets; children's ribbon and buckskin shirts; beaded hat bands; Pendleton vests; and shawls. Geboe is a master seamstress. Belcourt added that she plans to help others with selling their items, too. "We will be letting people put their items on consignment," she said. "As soon as we have the Web site up, we will take pictures and it will be advertised worldwide." Triangle Communications offered the trading post one free year of Web hosting services, and the Web site is expected to be up and running next week. The arts and crafts co-op offers patrons a wide variety of items, including: paintings, beadwork, knife cases, beads of every color, barrettes, watch bands, chokers and ornamental beaded cowboy hats. "We provide authentic, quality-made Native American work to sell to the public," Belcourt said. The Rocky Boy Tourism Center is located on U.S. Highway 87. The hours of both stores are from 10 a.m. to 5 p. m. Monday through Friday. For the next two months, both Will be open for business on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well. Belcourt said if the Saturdays prove to be busy, the staff will consider keeping the center open every Saturday throughout the year. Belcourt says she hopes these two businesses are a sign for more good things to come. "We're really thankful that the Chippewa-Cree Tribe is backing us," she said. "The tribe wants to see small business development and small business enterprises, and I think this is just the beginning." Belcourt added that she would like to thank spiritual leader Earl Arkinson for providing the blessing and smudging for the businesses during the grand opening ceremonies Wednesday and for praying for both businesses and their staff members. For more information, call the trading post at 352-3101 and the arts and crafts cooperative at 352-3301.