University Relations and Communications

MSU Billings hosts American Indian Heritage Day on Friday

September 21, 2009



Reno Charette, director of American Indian Outreach, 657-2144
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269 


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


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — The unique histories, cultures and philosophies of American Indians will be celebrated in full this week during 2009 American Indian Heritage Day at Montana State University Billings.


College students, grade school students and honored elders from tribes throughout the state will fill the university’s main campus for music, games and educational activities during the event, set for Friday, Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. All events are free and open to everyone.


Reno Charette, director of American Indian Outreach 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.


Different entities across the university 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.  The activities will begin at 9 a.m. with a traditional flag song followed by more than 15 different venues about American Indian culture. Participants can listen to American Indian drumming and singing, or watch the intricate footwork of dancers on the lawn as they stroll between venues. American Indian artists will also be demonstrating their talents along the routes to various venues. Visitors can also stop by the MSU Billings Library to view a display of American Indian books and artifacts that will inspire them to learn more about America’s first people.


Grade school and high school students are encouraged to participate in the MSU Billings coloring contest and to take advantage of a photo booth to commemorate their day on campus.  Elders are invited to be our honored guests and to grace the day with their participation. A rest station exclusively for elders will be provided near the drummers and dancers comfortably located in a shady area hosted by MSU Billings college students.


Also this year, Indian tacos will be for sale at the Sodexo cafeteria in the Student Union Building from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Different highlights of the event this year include:

  • American Indian flute performance in Petro Theatre
  • Pow wow dancers on the SUB lawn
  • Native Games in Peaks to Plains Park
  • The Big Read Celebration of Louise Erdrich’s “Love Medicine”

American Indian Heritage Day partners for 2009 are MSU Billings, Billings Public Schools-Indian Education, Indian Health Service, the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, RiverStone Health, Western Heritage Center and the Pretty Shield Foundation.  


To find out more, contact Reno Charette at 657-2144 or go to