Froid Celebrates Indigenous People’s Day
Staff and students of Froid’s public school were treated to a unique, two-hour presentation of Native American culture, traditions and stories, thanks to the generosity of visiting Assiniboine and Sioux tribal members from the Fort Peck Reservation, located 70 miles southeast of Froid.
“What a beautiful and appropriate way for our students to experience Native American culture and traditions,” noted Maria Gallegos, Froid’s art teacher and coordinator of the event. “The timing could not have been more perfect. Oct. 11 is Indeginous People’s Day, and this all started with a Golden Eagle.”
A mature, mounted Golden Eagle, a longtime resident of Froid’s school science room, had recently been gifted to the local tribes. Tribal members from the Fort Peck reservation were invited to collect the bird and share their customs and traditions with the school.
The cultural event began with tribal elder, Terry Martinez, who smudged the eagle with aromatic smoke from burning sagebrush. Martinez, speaking in Lakota, offered a prayer for the spirit of the eagle, as well as offering prayers for the well-being of the staff and students of Froid, and its residents.
Tribal Fish and Game warden Les Bighorn then explained the significance of the eagle and how, “just like the buffalo, every part of an eagle is used, with nothing wasted.” Bighorn also shared a story of how eagle feathers would be taken from live eagles by capturing and then releasing the birds, minus a few feathers, without harming them.
Sioux Grass Dancer, Cody Eagleman, spoke on the historic evolution of Grass dancer regalia and performed a graceful Grass Dance. Eagleman, a military veteran, urged Froid students to, “keep working hard in school,” and to look ahead toward college or possible military service after high school.
Froid students and teachers were invited to join the dancers for “intertribal dancing.” The schools’ gymnasium pulsed with the rhythmic beat of the resonating drum and blended singing voices of the Fort Peck Sioux Singers, some of whom had traveled from North Dakota to participate in this event, as students and staff enthusiastically joined the dancers out on the floor.
“This cultural event was spectacular and educational,” Gallegos said. “I grew up and lived on many different reservations, where daily life is rich and intricate in a way that is distinct to Indigenous people. Most of the students here have never been exposed to Native gatherings, events or pow wows. This was an amazing opportunity to experience and participate in some of the traditions of the local tribes. We have benefited from this amazing experience, thanks to the generosity of the Fort Peck Tribes.”