Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

June 9, 2011

Bitterroot Culture Camp to expose non-Indian youth to the history and culture of the Bitterroot Salish

By B.L. Azure

ST. IGNATIUS About four months ago, Steve Archibald, a retired Bitterroot Valley educator, approached the Salish Pend d'Oreille Culture Committee Elders Committee with the idea of a culture camp for middle school aged students from the Bitterroot Valley and the Flathead Indian Reservation.

The former teacher told the Elders that through the years he became well aware of the lack of knowledge his students had about the history of the Bitterroot Valley, in particular the fact that the area was the aboriginal homelands of the Bitterroot Salish.

Now retired and a member of the Bitter Root Recreation, Conservation and Development non-profit organization Archibald has taken a huge step in promoting an awareness and understanding of the people who lived in the area from time immemorial until 1891 when the last remnants of the Bitterroot Salish led by Chief Charlo were forcibly removed under military arms and escort to the present Flathead Indian Reservation. Despite the removal the Salish people, they still have extensive cultural and spiritual ties to the area and are forever linked to it in heart, mind and body.

Archibald said the purpose of camp is to nurture an understanding of the other between young Indian people of the Flathead Indian Reservation and their non-Indian peers in the Bitterroot Valley.

Elder Louie Adams concurred, saying that anything tribal in that area is nowadays generally linked to the Nez Perce tribe who actually lived and live to the west in Idaho and Oregon. Adams, who gives talks to groups about the Bitterroot Salish and their history, thought it was a good way to educate the young people of the Bitterroot Valley about the Salish people who once lived there. He added that it would be a good experience for the young Salish students who also lack critical knowledge about the history of their tribe and original homeland.

The camp will focus on the Bitterroot Salish history and culture from the Elders perspective and create an awareness of more recent history and change in the Bitterroot. The hope is to form new friendships as well as an appreciation of the Bitterroot landscape that both groups are connected to. It is an educational experience where all involved will have a good time while learning.

The camp is open to 20 to 25 students in the seventh grade.

The agenda is presently being fine-tuned but the locations were announced.

There will be two camp locations. The first will be at Fales Flat, a traditional gathering place of the Bitterroot Salish people, from Wednesday, July 13 to Friday, July 15. The second will be at Traveler's Rest State Park, another traditional gathering place where various tribal cultures gathered, from Friday, July 15 through Saturday, July 16.

For more information and to apply for the camp, contact Dana Hewankorn at 675-2700, ext. 1070.

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