By Alan Sorensen
Monday, which marks the 85th anniversary of Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, is a Chippewa Cree Tribal holiday in honor of Chief Stone Child.
All tribal offices, Stone Child College and the Chippewa Cree Health Board will be closed in memory of the venerable Chippea chief, also known as Rocky Boy and Stone Man.
It was on April 16, 1916 that the Indian reservation bearing his name Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation was officially created. Two days after the formal creation of the reservation for which he and Cree Chief Little Bear had worked so tirelessly, the revered chief and tribal elder died. He was in his 80s.
LouAnn Raining Bird, an employee of the H. Earl Clack Museum in the Heritage Center in Havre and a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy, collected those and other facts in search of the Tribe's history.
Raining Bird said she and museum curator Donna McGregor are usually available at the museum from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday during the off season. After Memorial Day, the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
Raining Bird is quick to point out that, as a woman, there are some questions about tribal history and customs that she cannot answer.
"Women can't answer some things," she said. "Women, in the Indian way, can't talk about the spiritual things, things like the sundance.
"I want to stress that."
For all kinds of information about the Tribe, its traditions and culture and heritage, people can approach the Cultural Committee at Rocky Boy or cultural historians at Stone Child College, she said.
Raining Bird admitted that she was taken by surprise during her research to confirm some facts about Chief Stone Child and Rocky Boy's Reservation for the occasion.
"Actually, I found out some stuff myself that I didn't already know," she said.
Raining Bird recounted the history of the reservation's name.
"Stone Man, when it was translated from Cree into English, it was translated wrong," she said. "Some of the people who did interpret didn't understand the English language that well."
History texts have also accused Army officials of opting for the name Rocky Boy over the name Stone Child because it was less respectful. Stone Child tends to evoke strength and vitality.
Raining Bird said that some of Stone Child's direct descendants, including artist John Well-Off-Man and Tribal Councilman Duncan Standing Rock, still call Rocky Boy home.
She said that Stone Child had five brothers and two sisters. Some other relatives, the Twoteeths, live in Helena.
The H. Earl Clack Museum contains a lot of material related to Rocky Boy's Reservation, including the original constitution and by-laws.
It also has a listing of every tribal council since is began in 1934. A copy of the Bible written in Cree script is on display, as are a traditional teepee and a buffalo skeleton.
For more information about the holiday, call Raining Bird or McGregor at the museum at 265-4000 or Mario Patacsil at 395-4207.