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Montana Northern Cheyenne

15 Days

Middle School Service Program
Opening Eyes and Minds to Life on the Reservation

JULY 15 to JULY 29, 2019 |  15 DAYS
45 HRS SERVICE  |  TUITION $3750

JULY 15 to JULY 29, 2019
15 DAYS
45 HRS SERVICE
TUITION
$3750

Program Overview

The VISIONS Northern Cheyenne middle school program uses our high school program as a model, but is carefully designed with the younger student in mind. Kids get to know the tribe by helping local people with light carpentry work to improve homes and schools, serving meals to elders, and instructing younger children on outdoor activities and arts and crafts. Service projects are balanced with recreation and cultural immersion, including hikes and horseback rides in the stunning Tongue River Valley and touring prominent Native American historical sites, such as the Little Bighorn Battlefield. Work days are a bit shorter than on high school programs, kids are almost always with leaders, and group size is smaller (12–15 participants on average) while maintaining VISIONS 1 to 4 leader to student ratio.

WE ARE MINDFUL

“The community service part of the trip was outstanding. Each day I felt really good about what I was doing.”

Charles Csaszar

New York

Embracing Projects That Matter

The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation was established in 1884, just eight years after the tribe joined the Lakota to fight the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army in the Battle of Little Bighorn (aka Custer’s Last Stand). Now a small, close-knit community based in Lame Deer, the residents struggle with issues that plague many reservations: a lack of adequate housing, sparse social resources and high poverty rates. VISIONS volunteers have worked with Cheyenne tribal members for nearly 30 years, learning the ways of the elders while making meaningful contributions. Your impact will be felt across the generations, from working with younger children in the Kids Kollege educational day camp to serving meals to elders at the Shoulder Blade senior center. You’ll also learn hands-on carpentry techniques to help build wheelchair ramps, picnic tables  and garden beds, renovate playgrounds and make home repairs. In the process, the people you meet will change the way you see the world.

WE ARE FAMILY

“The kids in the program were all awesome and they added so much to the experience. I think some of the friendships I made during this program were the best I’ve ever made.”

Maya Luera

Virginia

In 1914, Northern Cheyenne Chief Two Moons met with President Roosevelt to discuss ways to improve conditions on the reservation. Your service continues such efforts. The Cheyenne people have lived in this region for centuries, but their stories aren’t just the stuff of legend—they live, work, struggle and play in the present.

Making Meaningful Connections

When VISIONS began working with the Northern Cheyenne people in 1991, we received a welcoming blessing from Florence Running Wolf (see Spotlight) and the Tribal Council. Since then, we’ve grown deep roots in this community. While Native Americans living on reservations can be understandably slow to embrace outsiders, the trust we’ve built helps volunteers connect closely with locals. Based in the small town of Lame Deer (two hours east of Billings), students will get to know the Cheyenne in ways they never could from history books. You’ll be invited to activities that few non-tribal members are privy to, such as a drum circles, family meals and a visit to the tribal buffalo herd. You’ll play games and attend Kids Kollege with local children, learn how to make fry bread, berry pudding and traditional beadwork, and hear ages-old and contemporary stories from elders. Our service here is a way of thanking the Cheyenne for opening their lives and homeland to us.

Our
Home:
Lame Deer,
Montana

WE ARE EXPLORERS

“We got to go out and explore a lot. The camping trip was the most fun for me and a good bonding moment for the campers. I had a great time on this trip and I am looking forward to next year.”

Zoe White

Georgia

Southeastern Montana is known for the big skies stretching above the plains and the complicated backstory embedded in the land. The spellbinding beauty of the Tongue River Valley, with open ranges, distant mountains and rolling hills, is also an archive of Native American history, from Little Bighorn to the Medicine Wheel.

Setting Out To Go Beyond

Spending time in this part of the U.S. feels like an adventure in itself—the valleys, bluffs, sage bushes, cottonwood and pine trees create a cinematic, wild-west setting. You’ll get to know this part of the Rocky Mountain range by camping in the Bighorn National Forest, swimming at Crazy Head Springs, day hiking with a medicine man who’ll teach you to identify medicinal plants and going horseback riding with an outfitter. You’ll also visit historical sites, including the St. Labre Indian School, a Catholic mission established in 1884; the Little Bighorn Battlefield, where the Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho tribes beat back General Custer; Deer Medicine Rocks, where Sitting Bull is said to have predicted the Native American triumph against Custer during a massive Sun Dance; and the sacred Medicine Wheel, a massive, mysterious monument built into the earth by ancient people. By experiencing it up close, this vast history leaps into the here and now.

Activities and Excursions

  • Take an overnight camping trip in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming
  • See the Medicine Wheel, a sacred site constructed of large limestone rocks by ancient peoples
  • Tour the Little Bighorn Battlefield, site of Custer’s Last Stand, and Deer Medicine Rocks, an essential place in Native American history
  • Attend a youth rodeo
  • Visit historic reservation sites, such as the Buffalo Jump and St. Labre mission school
  • Go horseback riding in the Rocky Mountains
  • Spend the last day of the program Billings, Montana’s biggest city, where we celebrate with a pizza party and bowling

LOCAL SPOTLIGHT

Linwood Tall Bull

Ethnobotanist Elder

The Dog Soldiers were a group of Cheyenne military elite who fought against Custer in the Battle of Little Bighorn, and in many other clashes as the U.S. Army made its westward push. These formidable warriors were said to strike fear in the hearts of anyone who saw them. Chief Tall Bull was one such revered Dog Soldier, and he was also the esteemed ancestor of Linwood Tall Bull.

Though his presence is commanding, Linwood Tall Bull isn’t likely to strike fear into anyone’s heart. On the contrary, this generous Cheyenne elder and ethnobotanist is known for enchanting youth as he shares his vast knowledge of regional plants and their medicinal properties—much of which he learned from his own elders. A part-time teacher at Chief Dull Knife College, where he previously served as Director of the Cultural Learning Center, Linwood speaks across the Northwest about the healing, nutritional and spiritual properties of plants, as well as native traditions and habitat protection.

He is also President of the Medicine Wheel Alliance, a group of Native Americans working to protect and preserve the sacred Medicine Wheel National Historic Site in the Bighorn National Forest. But what kids love about Linwood is hearing his stories during short hikes together, sharing a meal or two with him, and visiting the gardens, chickens and teepees on his property, which he graciously invites us to tour during our summer stay.

Northern Cheyenne Blog Posts

Spotlight: Marvin Mastin

Spotlight: Marvin Mastin

When Marvin enters the room, the world gets a little brighter… “In my life I would like to create dialogue between people/groups. Everything starts with an interaction between two parties. VISIONS taught me that I only skimmed the surface of what there is to learn, share and discover…”

Grow Your Grit with VISIONS

Grow Your Grit with VISIONS

What trait offers the best chance at future happiness and success? Not a high IQ. Not even innate talent. According to the educational research, it’s “grit.” At VISIONS, we’re well acquainted with grit. Over the last 30 years, we’ve watched our participants build it right before our very eyes.

VISIONS REVIEWS

Read what others have said about their experience in this location. You also are welcome to contact the VISIONS office to request student and parent references.

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Linwood Tall Bull

Ethnobotanist Elder

The Dog Soldiers were a group of Cheyenne military elite who fought against Custer in the Battle of Little Bighorn, and in many other clashes as the U.S. Army made its westward push. These formidable warriors were said to strike fear in the hearts of anyone who saw them. Chief Tall Bull was one such revered Dog Soldier, and he was also the esteemed ancestor of Linwood Tall Bull.

Though his presence is commanding, Linwood Tall Bull isn’t likely to strike fear into anyone’s heart. On the contrary, this generous Cheyenne elder and ethnobotanist is known for enchanting youth as he shares his vast knowledge of regional plants and their medicinal properties—much of which he learned from his own elders. A part-time teacher at Chief Dull Knife College, where he previously served as Director of the Cultural Learning Center, Linwood speaks across the Northwest about the healing, nutritional and spiritual properties of plants, as well as native traditions and habitat protection.

He is also President of the Medicine Wheel Alliance, a group of Native Americans working to protect and preserve the sacred Medicine Wheel National Historic Site in the Bighorn National Forest. But what kids love about Linwood is hearing his stories during short hikes together, sharing a meal or two with him, and visiting the gardens, chickens and teepees on his property, which he graciously invites us to tour during our summer stay.

Northern Cheyenne Blog Posts

Spotlight: Marvin Mastin

Spotlight: Marvin Mastin

When Marvin enters the room, the world gets a little brighter… “In my life I would like to create dialogue between people/groups. Everything starts with an interaction between two parties. VISIONS taught me that I only skimmed the surface of what there is to learn, share and discover…”

Grow Your Grit with VISIONS

Grow Your Grit with VISIONS

What trait offers the best chance at future happiness and success? Not a high IQ. Not even innate talent. According to the educational research, it’s “grit.” At VISIONS, we’re well acquainted with grit. Over the last 30 years, we’ve watched our participants build it right before our very eyes.

(For those enrolled)

Celebrating 30 Years