Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Tribal Health and spectrUM looking back, looking ahead

By B.L. Azure
THHS PIO

Tribal Health summer interns Cameron Neiss and Mariah Hamel in conjunction with spectrUM teach youngsters about the physiology of the eye, using cow eyes. (B.L. Azure photo) Tribal Health summer interns Cameron Neiss and Mariah Hamel in conjunction with spectrUM teach youngsters about the physiology of the eye, using cow eyes. (B.L. Azure photo)

To say the first year of the University of Montana’s spectrUM travelling hands-on science and technology learning exhibit at the Arlee Celebration Powwow was a success would be an understatement. It was an overwhelming success that exceeded all involved parties expectations.

The three-day exhibit at the 116th Arlee Celebration Powwow was the first of what will be annual participation at the traditional cultural event of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille people.

Rickisha Bear and Talon Rose Colman check out the inner workings of the eye at the spectrUM traveling science exhibit at the Arlee Celebration. (B.L. Azure photo) Rickisha Bear and Talon Rose Colman check out the inner workings of the eye at the spectrUM traveling science exhibit at the Arlee Celebration. (B.L. Azure photo)

“Overall, all three days at the powwow were a success,” said Lily Croft of spectrUM Monday at a follow up meeting in Polson. The meeting was held to gauge the inaugural event and to begin work for next year’s Arlee Celebration Powwow. She was in charge and present all three days of the hands-on exhibit. Each day of the exhibit focused on different STEM (science, technology, engineering and math professions. “It was a pleasure to work there. We didn’t have any complaints. It was an awesome event and the kids were already asking if we were going to come back next year.”

There were no complaints but there were many compliments, including a lot from adults who said they envious of the exhibit’s hands-on learning. Many wished something like spectrUM was around when they were youngsters in school.

Tribal Health summer intern Loretta Grey Cloud helps youngsters at the spectrUM tent with a hands-on scientific experiment. (B.L. Azure photo) Tribal Health summer intern Loretta Grey Cloud helps youngsters at the spectrUM tent with a hands-on scientific experiment. (B.L. Azure photo)

“We’ve been waiting a long time for the University of Montana to come to the powwow,” said one community member who was familiar with spectrUM and its previous visits during the school year.

“We’ve never had anything like this for the children,” said another adding, “I’m amazed.”

Highlights of the Science Learning Tent included an exhibit featuring the first-ever Native American satellite that Salish Kootenai College is part of. It will be launched next August on a NASA rocket. The Family Astronomy Night featuring stargazing, astronomers, telescope activities and popcorn was also well received.

More than 300 youngsters and scores of adults stopped by the exhibit and participated in many of the hands-on exercises.

These young ladies get a hands-on lesson about the effects of pollution on the ecology at the spectrUM traveling science exhibit. (B.L. Azure photo) These young ladies get a hands-on lesson about the effects of pollution on the ecology at the spectrUM traveling science exhibit. (B.L. Azure photo)

At Monday’s meeting the Flathead Community Advisory Committee (FCAC) all agreed that due to the success of the inaugural event a larger tent canopy is needed. Next year the exhibit will be housed under a 400 square foot tent, twice the size of this year’s.

The group is hoping to eventually have a permanent location on the celebration grounds so STEM learning exhibit becomes a familiar stop for youngsters as well as adults at the celebration powwow.

The FCAC also plans to reach out to other appropriate Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes departments such as the Tribal Education Department, and Salish Kootenai College to see if they would want to participate in the annual event.

Tribal Health summer intern Melinda Smith helps youngsters at the CSKT NRD Wildlife Program station at the spectrUM tent at the Arlee Celebration. (B.L. Azure photo) Tribal Health summer intern Melinda Smith helps youngsters at the CSKT NRD Wildlife Program station at the spectrUM tent at the Arlee Celebration. (B.L. Azure photo)

The FCAC are also looking into the possibility of having a “Summer of Science” traveling STEM hands-on learning exhibit on weekends throughout the summer months on the Flathead Reservation. The idea is to reach out to many of the communities on the reservation, especially the far-flung locations like Elmo, Dayton and Hot Springs. There is already such an effort in the Bitterroot Valley where on each Saturday in May a STEM learning exhibit is in a different community there.

spectrUM is also considering a request to be a part of the annual KyiYo Powwow at the University of Montana. One of the benefits to spectrUM participation in the KyiYo Powwow would be the outreach to young American Indians from out of the Missoula area.

This year’s spectrUM at the Arlee Celebration Powwow was documented on video and a short documentary will be produced. When completed the video will be screened on the Flathead Reservation, site to be determined.

The UM spectrUM Program in conjunction with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Tribal Health and Human Services Department and Natural Resources Department, in particular the Wildlife Program collaborated on bringing the exhibit to the celebration.

Members of the Flathead Community Advisory Committee, (L-R) include: Lily Croft, Jessie Herbert, Cindi Laukes, Holly Truitt, Carey Swanberg, Stephanie Gillin, LeeAnna Muzquiz, Whisper Camel and Bernie Azure. (Josh Brown photo)  Members of the Flathead Community Advisory Committee, (L-R) include: Lily Croft, Jessie Herbert, Cindi Laukes, Holly Truitt, Carey Swanberg, Stephanie Gillin, LeeAnna Muzquiz, Whisper Camel and Bernie Azure. (Josh Brown photo)

The Flathead Community Advisory Committee is comprised of Whisper Camel and Stephanie Gillin, Wildlife Management program; Dr. LeeAnna Muzquiz, Lance Hawkins and Bernie Azure, THHS; Carey Swanberg, Ronan School District; Cindi Laukes, Neural Injury Center, University of Montana; and, Holly Truitt, Lily Coble and Jessie Herbert, UM spectrUM.

Tribal Health: Building Quality Health Care.

This year’s spectrUM at the Arlee Celebration Powwow was documented on video and a short documentary will be produced. When completed the video will be screened on the Flathead Reservation, site to be determined.

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