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Dodson, Harlem and Hays-Lodge Pole schools join in Native American Week


September 21, 2018

This year, Hays-Lodge Pole, Harlem and Dodson school districts are combining their Native American Week activities and expanding the week’s worth of events this year, Hays-Lodge Pole Superintendent John Bach Jr. said Thursday

“This is one of the biggest events we’ve ever done, and I’m not sure you’d find anything like this anywhere else,” he said.

Dean of Students and Athletic Director Corey Morgan said the planning for next week’s event began about five weeks ago, with the planners meeting every week to discuss the events.

Bach said this would have not been possible without the help of Ken “Tuffy” Helgeson, teacher of tribal languages and culture at the Hays-Lodge Pole Schools for ages kindergarten to eighth-grade, and Donald Racine III, who also teaches tribal languages and culture at the Hays-Lodge Pole Schools, grades K-eight.

Monday will have a bison hunt, with students meeting at Hays-Lodge Pole School and leaving on a bus at 8 a.m. The bus will take them to the corral at Snake Butte, where there are bison. After Hays-Lodge Pole students arrive, the bus will then leave to pick up students in Harlem. He added that there will be over 1,000 students and 100 staff members at the event.

Bach said the buffalo hunt will have more than a dozen teepees set up at the corral and will start with a pipe ceremony, followed by a hunting party being sent out to harvest the bison. The bison carcass will then be brought back to the corral, he added.

Morgan said while the hunting party is gone, the younger students who are not part of the hunting party will do sessions with different historical speakers in the teepees.

Bach said once the bison is brought back, the students will be shown how to dress and skin the carcass as well as identification of the different parts of the bison, how they were used traditionally and how they can still be used.

Tuesday will be the middle school day of the Native American Week events, Bach said. The teepees from the buffalo hunt will be moved to Mission Canyon near Hays.

Morgan said the evening session will have speaker and Fort Belknap comedian Kasey Nicholson of the Aaniiih Tribe at 7 p.m.

Bach said some of the people attending Tuesday’s event will stay overnight at the location.

Wednesday is the high school day, with grades nine through 12 attending the event. The Fort Belknap tribal council will be at the event in the afternoon to hold the council’s public works meeting, Bach said, giving the students the opportunity to see how beneficial tribal councils are and how they work. He added that dancers and community speakers will do presentations that day.

Thursday a powwow will be held, Bach said, where he expects many community members, tribal and nontribal, to attend. Harlem schools will be canceled that day for the event, with parents bringing their children to the powwow, Bach said. Dodson and Hays-Lodge Pole Schools will be open, with the schools taking students kindergarten to 12th-grade to the event.

He added that the powwow will follow the usual format with a grand entry, several drum groups and prizes available for dancers.

No events are scheduled for Friday and school will be closed atr Hays-Lodge Pole and Dodson.

Bach said that during the week, some traditional games will be held for students in the evening, such as lacrosse and stick games.

Morgan said that throughout the week, elders and community speakers will discuss gender roles, healthy relationships, the do’s and don’ts, becoming adults and other topics.

He added that a pipe ceremony will be held every morning at 9 a.m.

Morgan said the pipe ceremony “is a huge part of being a Native American,” regardless of tribe.

“It’s a big part of who the Native American people are,” he said. “It’s is a way to start the day, asking our ancestors for a good day, good thoughts, open heart and guidance.”

Bach said the pipe ceremony is not about commercial tobacco but connected to the cultural history, and it is important for the youth to learn of the tradition.


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