DAYTON – For the first time at Dayton Elementary School, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal flag waves at its entrance. “We’re proud and honored to have the tribal flag hanging at our school,” Principal and Superintendent Dr. Darlene Hartman said. “This is good for all of our students.”
The flag was erected with a morning ceremony last week, which included honor and flag songs performed by traditional drummers and singers from the Elmo community. Indian Education Committee member Seneca Incashola said it was a monumental moment for the school. “The flag gives the tribal students a sense of belonging,” she said. “It brings awareness to everyone that we are here and we live on a reservation.”
Incorporating a tribal flag on the school’s campus was a two-year process. Incashola said the school board initially voted against the initiative due to issues with flag etiquette. The idea was reintroduced last month to a board made up new members and Incashola said it was well received. “I’m thankful for the support from the new school board and principal,” she said.
Dayton Elementary School has 58 students, three of which identify as Native American. Incashola said the school has been active in incorporating the Kootenai language and culture into the classroom. “The Kootenai Culture Committee has been a big help working with the school,” she said. “Danielle Stiffarm brought the kids to dig bitterroot. It’s important for the students to learn that there are different tribes here. Not all Native Americans are the same.”
Incashola said the tribal flag is a positive symbol moving forward. “The Indian Education Committee is planning more events to get the students involved and bring more awareness to our community,” she said. “I think this is a good start to working together.”