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
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
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
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.