Little Priest Serves Community Youth

Nov 15th, 2000 | By | Category: 12-2: Land is Life, Tribal College News

Little Priest Tribal College provided a three-week program for the youth of the Winnebago (Nebraska) community last summer, which was designed to help the young people grow personally, physically, and academically. The college’s Family and Community Violence Program originally proposed it, and other college staff added their diverse expertise. The activities included studying bison habitat, reading and analyzing a Native American “Cinderella” story, and using the native Hocak language to sing “Silent Night” and play twister. More than 50 children participated ranging in age from 10 to 17.

Louie LaRose directed Week One, “Experience the Buffalo Trail.” Participants learned about the history of the buffalo, methods used in raising them, and the current practices of restoring buffalo to a balanced ecosystem. The first-hand experience with the bison herd helped build participants skills in math and science while strengthening tribal traditions.

Gail Thompson and Crystal Snowball from the college’s GEAR UP Program directed Week Two, “Jump Start Your College Career.” Participants were exposed to college through daily classes that they selected. GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a five-year Department of Education program to help 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students prepare for college.

Elaine Rice from the Hocak Language Program directed Week Three, “Learn the Language and Culture.” Fluent elders and community members utilized traditional and contemporary games to instruct the youth in the Hocak language. The language immersion activities provided a challenging and creative learning experience as well as strengthening tribal traditions through cross-generation interaction. Several tribal elders and members had participated in a Hocak Language Immersion Summer Program.

“The summer program demonstrated the power of commitment and cooperation,” Gail Thompson said. “Little Priest Tribal College and the Winnebago community exemplified the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’” she said.

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