By Tim Leeds
A new event is set to start at Stone Child College this weekend.
The Native American Student Association at the college is hosting the first Youth Conference and Reunion Pow Wow on the campus. Mary Top Sky, the association's student advisor, said the event is to promote the Chippewa Cree culture to the students in the community, and to recognize the graduates of Stone Child College and their achievements. She said they want to try to involve everyone in the event.
"I think it's a little bit of everything," she said. "We're trying to involve everybody. We are a college community, we want to involve everybody in the community."
Top Sky said the Youth Conference begins Friday morning, May 25, with presentations made to the students by alumni of the college throughout the day. The conference starts with a general assembly and continental breakfast, with past keynote speakers from Stone Child graduations making presentations. The conference will then split up into mini-sessions covering a variety of topics.
Top Sky said alumni of the college will conduct the mini-sessions in areas of their expertise, such as social services, family services and other areas. She said there will be many different presentations, including ones on tobacco use, drug and alcohol abuse, teepee making, language and more.
Much of the conference presentations will be grounded in traditional Chippewa Cree values, giving the students exposure to their traditional culture as well as the values of higher education shown by the alumni.
There will also be an art show and sale at the conference and pow wow, including local artists as well as works by the students.
"A lot of the students have really excellent work," Top Sky said. "They're good artists."
Some of the featured artists at the event include Douglas Standing Rock, Vernon The Boy, L. G. Piapot and Lloyd Top Sky. Mary Top Sky said there will be a variety of art at the show, including traditional American Indian art, contemporary art; whatever medium the participating artist works in.
She said the Reunion Pow Wow begins Saturday, May 26,at 6 p.m. with the grand entry. She said the pow wow will have two evening sessions, starting at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 27, as well, with a picnic-style lunch Sunday afternoon.
Top Sky said that as well as holding traditional events, graduates of the college who have died will be recognized in the ceremonies, as well as deceased recipients of honorary degrees. She said that since she started working at Stone Child in 1995, she has kept a record of the graduates, and is trying to recognize all who have died since then. Top Sky said there may be some that are missed from before her keeping the records, but she is trying to honor as many as she can.
Top Sky said they are sending invitations to the families and classmates of those graduates, as well as all alumni and the community in general. She said part of the reason for the conference and pow wow is to show members of the community what the graduates of the college have gone on to do, and to show the value of completing their educations, and they want to involve everyone.
Top Sky said the student association is the force behind the events, with her and the other advisors, Nadine Morsette, Earl "Archie" Arkinson and Lloyd Top Sky, just providing direction. She said the association hosts many traditional events at the college and participates in others off campus, to promote cultural awareness in the area. She said they do a multitude of fund-raisers throughout the year to pay for it all.
Top Sky said they are starting the event fairly small, but hope to expand it as it continues through the years.
"We're not going to try to get some outrageous expectations," she said. "Next year maybe we could extend it to week-long activities."