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SPCC Culture Camp focuses on language instruction, education

By Adriana Fehrs

Vance Home Gun, SPCC Language Instructor and Language and Culture Camp Facilitator, rattles off the winning numbers for the door prizes at the SPCC Language and Culture Camp. SPCC elder Dolly Linsebigler was the winner. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  Vance Home Gun rattles off the winning numbers for the door prizes at the SPCC Language and Culture Camp. SPCC elder Dolly Linsebigler was the winner. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

ST. IGNATIUS — The Salish Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee (SPCC) hosted another successful annual culture camp again this year, despite the rain. This year the SPCC focused on language instruction.

The Language and Culture Camp began on June 16, and continued until June 20.

Whisper Camel-Means (L) and Steph Gillin, tribal wildlife biologists, hold up different wolf pelts. The pair gave an educational lecture on different animal species found on the Flathead Indian Reservation at the SPCC Language and Culture Camp. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Whisper Camel-Means (L) and Steph Gillin, tribal wildlife biologists, hold up different wolf pelts. The pair gave an educational lecture on different animal species found on the Flathead Indian Reservation at the SPCC Language and Culture Camp. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Vance Home Gun, SPCC Language Instructor and Language and Culture Camp Facilitator, says, “We had a great turn out this year.” Though activities were forced to go inside due to rain, both the dining room and the large main room of the Long House was packed full of eager participants.

After every breakfast, an opening prayer and wake up song would start the day. Pat Pierre and Stephen Small Salmon led the instruction.

On Monday, most of the day was spend on language instruction – a half-hour before lunch, everyone gathered together to learn the Salish meal prayer. The People’s Center dropped by to give a camas presentation. Later in the day there was a presentation on hunting and cutting meat.

SPCC elder Dolly Linsebigler sits with Intensive SPCC Language Program adult learner John Bunce Tuesday afternoon at the Language and Culture Camp. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  SPCC elder Dolly Linsebigler sits with Intensive SPCC Language Program adult learner John Bunce Tuesday afternoon at the Language and Culture Camp. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

On Tuesday, the Long House was packed full. Though the rain persisted, the SPCC seized the opportunity to join everyone together to do activities. The morning consisted of mini war bonnet construction with SPCC Elder Stephen Small Salmon. Tipi set up was rescheduled due to the rain, and instead, participants learned pouch construction and language instruction.

DJ Piapot, Salish Language Adult Learner at Nkwusm, enjoys the fun and games during Salish language instruction at the SPCC Language and Culture Camp. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  DJ Piapot, Salish Language Adult Learner at Nkwusm, enjoys the fun and games during Salish language instruction at the SPCC Language and Culture Camp. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

The afternoon was full of excitement when Whisper Camel-Means and Steph Gillin, Tribal Wildlife Biologists, brought in animal pelts and skulls. The children gazed in excitement when Camel-Means and Gillin lifted up the animal furs. An occasional ‘whoa’ could be heard from the crowd.

They presented the buffalo fur first. Gillin explained how every part of the buffalo would be used – the bladder used as a water bottle, the fat rendered for soap, and even the scat was used as diaper powder.

As Camel-Means and Gillin presented the furs, Home Gun would teach the Salish names of the animals, and then the onlookers would repeat the Salish words back.

Whisper Camel-Means (center), tribal wildlife biologist, holds up a Mountain Lion fur and Steph Gillin (R), tribal wildlife biologist, shows off it’s paw print. The two wildlife biologists presented numerous furs and skulls at the SPCC Language and Culture Camp. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Whisper Camel-Means (center), tribal wildlife biologist, holds up a Mountain Lion fur and Steph Gillin (R), tribal wildlife biologist, shows off it’s paw print. The two wildlife biologists presented numerous furs and skulls at the SPCC Language and Culture Camp. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

The biologists went over the characteristics of other animals, such as wolves, coyotes, and wolverines; the cultural camp goers welcomed the task of learning the Salish equivalent of each animal.

Mali Matt and Echo Brown, SKC Salish Language Instructors, joined the festivities to teach Salish. The instructors led the group through several activities with the help of several adult learners from the SPCC Intensive Salish Language Program and NÂusm. One game consisted of a bingo type card, and for another game the students guessed the correct response while an adult learner held up pictures of different greetings and common responses.

Boys hone their reflexes with some coaching. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  Boys hone their reflexes with some coaching. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

After the games ended, Alec Quequesah, former SKC Salish Language Instructor, and son Charlie Quequesah taught traditional drum songs before dinner to wrap up the day.

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