|September 12, 2013
Valley View School learns about tipis, native culture
By Alyssa Nenemay
Tanner teaches the students the proper roping technique to securely tie the poles together. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
POLSON — Valley View school children were treated to a lesson in tipi set-up as part of an Indian Education for All initiative. Terry Tanner, of the CS&KT Natural Resources department, led the demonstration saying he’s had a lot of experience. “I’m used of setting up around 20 tipis within a few days each year for the tribes’ River Honoring so I’m kind of an expert,” he said jokingly.
Tanner began his demonstration noting that the tipi the school purchased was not authentic to local tribes. “This is a Lakota Sioux style tipi, you’d find this particular style more in the Plains. There are hundreds of tribes in the US and every one of them had their own housing. Even tipis, there are all kinds of styles and the ones traditionally used by local tribes is different from this one,” he said.
Tanner demonstrates the final stages of the tipi set-up and disbands common stereo tyoes for traditional Native American dwelling. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
Valley View is located in a small white schoolhouse on a desolate dirt road outside of Polson. With 26 students ages 6 through 12, the class has been learning about the local Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille tribes as part of a social studies lesson. “I’m trying to be as authentic as I can with the lessons to really teach our students about the rich Native American heritage of this area,” said school instructor Carol Madden. “I’m very grateful that the tribe is willing to teach us.”
Tanner teaches the younger boys of the class the proper placement of the tipi poles. “There is a math to setting up the tipis, if you don’t set everything up right it could fall,” he said. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
Tanner walked the students through the proper tying techniques and placement of the poles. Allowing hands on participation, Tanner explained that the current materials used to create tipis were not traditionally used. “A long time ago they didn’t have canvas, so tipis were made out of buffalo hide. The buffalo was very important to local tribes–they depended on them for survival. Even the rope used for tipis was made out of buffalo,” he said.
Madden noted that the school purchased the tipi prior to her becoming an instructor and she did have concerns with the paintings the children added for decoration which included the hand prints of former students. “Traditionally, local tribes did not paint their tipis. The Blackfeet tribe was known for painting their tipis and even then, the paintings had significant meaning. It wasn’t just decoration,” said Tanner.
Terry Tanner of the CS&KT Natural Resources Department provided a tipi set up demonstration for students at the Valley View School outside of Polson. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
Madden said the school is planning to incorporate more Native American educational standards into the classroom and she is looking forward to obtaining more resources at the upcoming Pupil Instruction Related (PIR) Day. “I learned a lot today and I know the children got a lot out of it. This is really going to help us improve,” she said.