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Celebrating Native American Day in Great Falls

Posted at 12:29 PM, Sep 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-25 12:37:55-04

U.S. Native American Day is celebrated on the fourth Friday of September every year. As a way of honoring those who have been a part of the American tradition, an effort put forth by several organizations in Great Falls aimed to educate kids through entertainment.

At the Boys and Girls Club of Cascade County, the Montana United Indian Association, International Traditional Games Society, Indian Family Health Clinic, as well as the Boys and Girls Club collaborated in hosting an event in which kids got to play various games ranging from Shinney Ball to Double Ball, as well as other Native American Activities.

Brandon Fish was one of the leaders of the event.

"The purpose of this event was to collaborate with other organizations to give back to the community and give back to the kids. Show them that these organizations are there for them, and that we're here to help."

Fish added that Double Ball was the most challenging yet rewarding activity due to the ability of teaching various disciplines that younger kids, particularly boys need to learn.

"Double Ball is a woman's game," he said. "When you play a woman's game, you've got to play by the rules. The men can't knock down the women, we can't push them over, or move them out of the way. They can do that all they want. When you have a double ball, and you're running down the field, if they tackle you, you just got to take it and can't retaliate. If they trip you, you have got to take it and can't retaliate. This is a way of respecting women though that game because of what they provide for us, how they are the backbone of our families. The matriarch comes from a male-female balance. We try to oppose that balance with the relationships we have with these games."

For kids such as Taylor Bearchlid, events such as this helps him build relationships with other kids.

"Why it makes me happy is because it connects with my culture, and I used to play these games. When I used to play these games, they would teach me a lot."

Fish noted one unique importance these games serve.

"With these games, we try not to push a winner. We want everyone getting along. We don't do first, second, or third place traditionally. We just want them to have fun, get into the spirit of the game, and to be able to laugh with each other and be kids."