Rocky Boy, my small reservation, is known as home to some of Montana’s greatest athletes. Box Elder High School, a tiny school that is roughly filled with about 98% Native American high school students,took the basketball state championship back-to-back with a perfect record of 26-0.
My home is not only filled with some great athletes, it is also packed with tradition. Rocky Boy, Montana, is named after a Cree leader whose name as a child was Stone Child, which is the now the name of our community college. Young children with long braids, or no braids at all, are all a part of the powwow every year during the first weekend of August. Teenagers are also sometimes taught how to hunt for wild game, so that they can pass the tradition down to their children. The youth on our reservation is important, because they are our future. Everyday, each child, teenager or young adult is taught a little more about the Chippewa-Cree language and history. Sometimes, it is the little things that are taught that make a difference in our community.
Although basketball and tradition is important in Rocky Boy, so is the food. Our mountains (called the Bear Paw Mountains) are filled with yummy berries that people patiently wait all winter for. Juneberries, chokecherries, raspberries and bull berries are all used for traditional feasts or often delivered to elders as a sign of respect. Stories and beliefs are well and alive on our reservation. If you look closely at our sacred mountain, Centennial, you can see a bear lying on its stomach. Elders tell a story that when you cannot see the mountain, it is going to storm. We must never feel mad or sad because of the rain or snow falling from the sky, because as it is storming, the bear gets up to dance and pray for our people behind the clouds or fog. Although drugs and alcohol are becoming more and more of a dilemma on our reservation, there is always a reason to look past the negatives and to appreciate what Mother Nature gave us: a place to call HOME.
Photo Credit: Billings Gazette