Students use tipi in courtyard to celebrate Native American Heritage Month


Isabella Robinson

Looking out the center of the tipi, it is apparent how the poles are arranged to allow smoke to escape.

Geyser Staff

Staff were able to sample fry bread, a food that is not traditional to many tribes but has entered their diet in modern times, Mussetter explained. (Sarah Mussetter)
A fully loaded plate at the staff feed features and “Indian Taco” with ground elk meat and a side of fried corn cake with juniper berry. (Sarah Mussetter)
Staff and their family enter the tipi in the courtyard during the staff feed on Nov. 19. (Kate Lende)

Students in the Survival Science and Native American Studies classes at Park High set up the canvas tipi in the school courtyard during November as part of Native American Heritage Month.  Social Studies teacher Kyle Neibauer has been using the structure with his Native American Studies class as a place to read Joseph Medicine Crow’s book, Counting Coup, and also for lessons in tipi etiquette and Native American traditions such as smudging with sweetgrass.  Principal Lori Dust, whose tribal affiliations are with the Miami and Crow tribes, brought a metal fire pit to use in the tipi and led Neibauer’s class in a smudging ceremony.

November 19, Dust and Art teacher Sarah Mussetter, an enrolled member of the Tsitsistas (Northern Cheyenne) tribe, hosted a fry bread feed in the courtyard for Park High staff and their families.  Mussetter made her Aunt Vonda’s fry bread, berry pudding, and other traditional Native American dishes, and Neibauer provided bison and elk meat for the feed.  Prior to eating, Mussetter gave a traditional Cheyenne meal blessing and explained the origin of the dishes she prepared.

After the meal, Dust shared stories of her participation in a bison hunt on the Crow reservation.  Staff and their spouses and children gathered around the fire inside the tipi, enjoying the warmth on a cold and rainy evening.

Principal Lori Dust lights a bundle of sweetgrass in the tipi to perform a smudging ceremony with the Native American studies class. (Isabella Robinson)
Kyle Neibauer’s Native American Studies class stands in the courtyard in front of the tipi they helped erect. (Isabella Robinson)
Teacher Kyle Neibauer uses a sweetgrass bundle to smudge the tipi as his class watches how the smoke travels up through the smoke flaps. (Isabella Robinson)
Students in the Native American Studies class spend time in the tipi reading Crow elder Joseph Medicine Crow’s account, Counting Coup. (Isabella Robinson)