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Powwow brings children together

RONAN – Communities united at the Flathead Indian Reservation’s Head Start Powwow for pint size dancers and their families on Friday at the Ronan Event Center.

“This started around 41 years ago as a small powwow in Arlee with maybe 18 people as a way to bring people together,” said Jeanne Christopher, Early Childhood Services director.

The powwow gathers folks from all the different Head Start programs that serve children from 0-5 across the reservation.

“We also have a dinner with fresh fruit, vegetables, and fry bread,” she said.

About 300 kids received a pair of handmade leather moccasins for the event that they get to keep. The event allows kids to participate in cultural activities even if they don’t have a Native American cultural upbringing.

“This is a preventative activity,” Christopher said. “The kids come here and this is for them. It gives them a strong sense of belonging, and everyone is welcome.”

Carolyn Welch is a single parent of five children. Her twin boys attend the Pablo Head Start program. She is working to get a nursing degree and said the childcare program allows her to focus on school without worrying about her boys.

“It feels like I’m taking them to family,” she said. “Everyone, including the cook, cares about them.”

At the program, the boys get gym time to run and play. They learn gardening skills, listen to stories, and much more.

“They’ve even learned how to pour milk by themselves, which is something I just do for them, but they are learning those things,” she said.

During the powwow, the Veterans Warrior Society lead the grand entry followed by each Head Start program. The dancers circled the gym for hours with high levels of energy until it was bedtime. Several small dancers went home sleeping on the shoulders

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