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Youths trade cleanup for fair tickets


Youths at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation can get tickets to another premier Hi-Line event if they help clean up after Rocky Boy's Pow-Wow.

The tribal government is teaming with other organizations to offer 800 carnival ride wristbands for the Great Northern Fair to youths ages 7 to 17 - if they help clean the powwow grounds.

"We do cleanup every year," said Jonathan Windy Boy, powwow chairman and tribal council member. "We try to be creative. Whatever works."

Paul Russette, special events coordinator at the reservation, said the tribal government wanted to make sure youths at Rocky Boy had a chance to go to the fair, but wanted to do more than that.

"We wanted to give them some initiative, give them something to give back to the community, give them character and build good values," Russette said. "We wanted to make sure our children understand life is kind of a give-and-take. They have to give as well as receive."

Russette said he expects the cleanup to move quickly. If the powwow grounds are finished early enough, the cleanup will probably move to adjacent areas, like the highways near the grounds, he said.

The youths will bring the bags of garbage they pick up to the supervisors at the grounds and receive a wristband, good for admission to all of the carnival rides all day on any one day during the fair.

The cleanup is on Aug. 5, two days after the powwow ends. Kids who want to join in must check in with one of the coordinators at the powwow grounds at 8 a.m. A youth powwow begins at 1 p.m. Thursday, and runs throughout the day. Friday's events begin with a sobriety walk at 9 a.m., and a grand entry at 7 p.m. The powwow continues through Sunday night.

The Great Northern Fair runs from Aug. 6 through Aug. 10.

Chris Jilot, director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, coordinated the wristband purchase with Tim Solomon, manager of the Hill County Fairgrounds.

Solomon said the arrangement will benefit both communities.

"Anytime that we can bring more people to the fair, it's great for the economy," he said.

If the cleanup this year is a success, Russette said, he would like to see it done every year.

He said the money for the wristbands - $9 each - was budgeted from the tribe's funds reserved for youth activities. The Chippewa Cree Tribe places a high priority on educating and helping the youth of the tribe, he added.

The work will be closely supervised to make sure it's productive, Russette said. Hopefully it will create a new attitude in the youths, he added.

"If the kids are able to see the results of their work they might start doing it as a habit," he said. "They might see that caring for the community is something that's cool."


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