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Hundreds turn out to support sobriety walk

 

August 6, 2018

Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

People walk and run toward Rocky Boy's powwow grounds during the 2018 Sobriety Walk at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation Friday.

Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation saw more than 500 participants in the 27th Annual Sobriety Walk Friday morning, said Tara Top Sky, one of the volunteers at the finish line.

She said that during the sign-in they ran out of the 500 bracelets that they had prepared for the walk and that there were many people who still wanted to register for the walk.

Top Sky added that this was the largest crowd that they have seen in the past couple of years.

The sobriety walk started back in 1991 with Kathy Morsette, a former high school teacher, and Bob Swan helping establish the walk, volunteer Gilberta Belgarde said. Since then, the walk has had participants from many different parts of the country and Canada.

The sobriety walk planning begins months before with a different department in the Chippewa Cree Tribe organizing it each year, Top Sky said, adding that all departments contribute to and organize the lunch. She said that this year many organizations, including Stone Child College, Plain Green and Social Services, donated prizes such as basketball hoops, Native clothing, camping gear and other prizes.

The sobriety walk had 50 to 60 volunteers this year with Plain Green, Jitterbug's and Gramma's Market all donating water for participants. The event also started with prayer and a smudging, led by Merle Tendoy, to bless the event.

"(The sobriety walk) is to promote sobriety in Indian Country and community health," Belgarde said. "This kicks our annual powwow off right with everyone, even from out of the surrounding states, supporting our community."

Some participants ran the three miles from the former Stone Child College building to the powwow grounds.

Wade Colliflower from Rocky Boy said it was his first year participating in the walk. He was having a good time, he added, and was happy to be able to participate. He added that he was surprised by how many people were in the event and was happy to see it bring the community together.

Colliflower said the event was positive and the organizers did a good job with making it great and welcoming for everyone.

"People don't realize all the events at Rocky Boy," he said.

Karen Bunda from the Arkansas Indian Church Group was also participating in the walk for the first time. She came from Arkansas to work the church groups booth and pick up trash during the powwow with 50 other volunteers, she said. The booth offered free water, coffee and other things during the powwow, she added. She said the group has also done work with Montana Indian Ministry.

Bunda said the sobriety walk was a good event and brings awareness to the issue that's everywhere in the country.

Renita Watson with the Alternative Resource program was one of the volunteers for the event.

Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

She said the event is always something to look forward to in addition to the powwow and shows the hospitality of the Chippewa Cree people. She was very excited about the gifts they had available this year, she said, and that groups donated generously for the walk this year.

Watson said the Alternative Resource program offers many different events throughout the year including a Second Annual Men's Health event earlier this year and the Fifth Annual Women's Health event scheduled for October, where speakers promote awareness of health issues.

Crystal Gardipee from Rocky Boy said this was the fifth year she has participated in the walk. She said she felt good after arriving at the powwow grounds and added that this event is important to the community to promote awareness to drug and alcohol problems.

"It's good to see the community come out in support," Gardipee said.

 

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