September 12, 2008



Reno Charette, Native American Studies Program Coordinator, 657-2144
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


Music, tipis, games and storytelling to fill main campus for day of cultural awareness and activities 


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — The unique histories, cultures and philosophies of American Indians will be celebrated in full during American Indian Heritage Day 2008 at Montana State University Billings.


The university’s main campus will be home to tipis, music, games and educational events during the event, set for Friday, Sept. 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. All events are free and open to everyone.


Reno Charette, Native American Studies Program Coordinator at MSU Billings and a member of the steering committee for the event, said American Indian Heritage Day is a perfect opportunity for the community — especially schoolchildren — to become more acquainted with a rich and diverse heritage. It also provides an opportunity to broaden awareness at the university, she said.


“What I wanted was a way to bring a greater presence of American Indian culture on our campus,” Charette said.


Different entities across the university — from student groups to student services to the athletic and academic departments — have worked with community groups and businesses in planning American Indian Heritage Day.


Registration is open at 8:45 a.m. in the Student Union Building.  Opening ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m., followed by a variety of activities and the opening of a vendor exhibit.  Displays, presentations and discussions will take place on the SUB lawn, the Peaks to Plains Park and the MSU Billings Library.


Students in grades 6-8 and 9-12 are encouraged to participate in a Passport Activity that enables them to enter a drawing to win gift baskets that include technology, MSU Billings items and American Indian cultural items.  There will be three prizes for students in grades 6-8 and three prizes for those in grades 9-12. 


American Indian elders are invited to be honored guests to participate in all activities. A rest station exclusively for elders will be provided.


Different highlights of the event this year include:

  • American Indian Music, More Than Just Drums and Flutes, by Scott Prinzing: The session will teach participants an appreciation for Indian music of all types. Prinzing will talk about American Indian music that transcends the powerful and rhythmic vocalizations of powwow drumming or the gentle and contemplative melodies of the Native American flute. 
  • Native Games presented by certified instructors from the International Traditional Native Games Society: Participants will learn about traditional Native games such as Shinney, Stone People Games, Hoop and Arrow, Run and Scream, and Double Ball.  Indian games of intuition and chance teach players about body language, the natural environment, and ways to connect with their own spirit and power.
  • Sacred Tobacco Presentation by Victoria Augure:  An enrolled member of the Blackfeet nation, Augure has worked with Indian Family Health Clinic in Great Falls and has presented nationally on the differences between traditional use of tobacco vs. commercial use of tobacco. She currently works at Benefis Healthcare as the Native American Patient Advocate, and runs the Native American Welcoming Center.  She will give a presentation on the proper uses of sacred tobacco that American Indians practice using today.
  • Ledger Art Stories and Display at the MSU Billings Library: Between 1879 and 1897, Crow and Gros Ventre Indians at Crow Agency created a number of ledger drawings. Of these, 66 survive in a group now known as the Barstow Collection and is in the MSU Billings Library’s Special Collections. These first pictures were made at the Absarokee Agency between 1879 and 1884. Library staff will share reproductions of the ledger art and the stories associated with them that reveal early Native perspectives that have shaped our history as a community and a state.
  • Adult Health Fair sponsored by the Billings Clinic:  The health fair, in the SUB Ballroom, will feature subjects ranging from women’s wellness to blood pressure screening to oxygen level screening and occupational health. Screening for American Indian women include Dexa Scans for Indian women between the ages of 20-40 and a study of mother’s milk specific to Indian women.  This is a study looking at dietary discrepancies through the analysis of mother’s milk.  Enrollment in the study will be conducted.  Enrollees are paid $25 for their time. 

In addition, the Night Hawks Drum Group from Lame Deer will perform, a tribal flags exhibit from the Western Heritage Center will be on display and a workshop on American Indian storytelling for elementary students by School District 2 professionals will be held. MSU Billings student-athletes will also be in attendance to greet area schoolchildren who attend and provide free game tickets to those who complete their Passport Activity booklets.


In partnership with the MSU Billings Urban Institute, which is holding a water forum at the university the same day, participants in American Indian Heritage Day are encouraged to attend a showing of the film “Flow” in Petro Theatre at 11:30 a.m.

Billings community sponsors for American Indian Heritage Day 2008 are:

  • Western Heritage Center — American Indian Tribal Histories Project
  • School District 2 — Title VII & Office of Indian Education
  • RiverStone Health
  • Indian Health Service
  • The MSU Billings Urban Institute
  • MSU Billings Library
  • MSU Billings Native American Studies
  • MusEco Media & Education project
  • Native American Development Corporation
  • Billings Clinic
  • Crown artist Larry Singer
  • Cynroc, Inc.

More information and contacts:

  • Activities: 657-2144
  • Presentations: 256-6809 ext. 126
  • Exhibitors/Vendors: 247-3320
  • Adult Health Fair: 247-7118
  • Urban Institute Water Forum: 896-5862

For a full schedule of activities and more information, go to or see the link on the university’s home page.


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