Ronan High School senior Persephone Sandoval

Ronan High School senior Persephone Sandoval takes her turn at introducing herself to CSKT Tribal Council. A room of 60 students made a visit to CSKT tribal headquarters on Thursday, November 29 to experience and learn the role of the CSKT tribal council representatives have on the Flathead Reservation.

Char-Koosta News 

PABLO — A first year Ronan High School teacher took his government class to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council to meet the council members face-to-face and hear firsthand how the CSKT tribal council operates.

Nearly 60 students filled the CSKT council chambers at the Thursday morning session with questions and introductions.

“Most students have never been to the CSKT facilities and are unaware how Tribal government or the council actually works,” said Riley Sampson, Ronan High School government teacher. 

Sampson informed Tribal Council that his government students are currently studying a variety of government operations including tribal governments and the Hellgate Treaty.

“Students in government are studying all facets of government including tribal sovereignty and what that concept means,” Sampson said. His students are also studying how tribal governments interact with other levels of government including federal, state, and local; however he said the students would have a better understanding with a chance at hearing first hand from tribal council representatives. 

CSKT Chairman Ron Trahan asked for each student to introduce themselves before each council representative introduced themselves and gave brief updates on work they have been working on in their districts and what matters are important to them and their communities. 

CSKT Legal Department attorney Shane Morigeau also participated in a question and answer session with the students after Chairman Trahan put him in the spotlight at the start.

A few students asked questions ranging from ‘Does one have to be a tribal member of the CSKT to sit on council’ to ‘what is tribal sovereignty?’

The tribal government field trip did not end at the council chambers; students heard from legal and education department staff on financial aid and grant opportunities and potential employment opportunities.

In the short time visit Sampson said the visit was academically effective and students were able to share back and forth important details they took away from the trip after returning to class.

“Students were able to gain an idea at how complex and elaborate the tribal government facilities are. Students understand the independence and right to sovereignty the tribal government has over its people and land,” said Sampson.

Sampson believes what stood out from the trip was, “The students gained a realization at how much the tribal government actually does and is in charge of. It gave them a better understanding at how the CSKT tribal government works and interacts in multiple levels.”

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