Dear 2017 Montana House Reps & Fellow Natives, from #NotYourIndianNCupBoard

Equality, sovereignty, self-determination, decision-making and change for communities are myths for many Native Americans because the delivery of the message has always been from the same people who put us here. The analogy of “Indian in the cupboard” is from a stereotyped political Native American, who would agrees on traditional token messages from political campaigns pushing an agenda for a single vote. Not a lot has changed for Natives since 1889, when Lewis and Clarke murdered the first Blackfeet of Montana.  My ancestors were the “Original Protectors” of what is now called Montana, they never had the ideology of owning land, air or water. They lived in a “communal balance” between natural resources, animals and their people. A special election for the Montana Federal House Seat will happen in the next 90 days. The 13 tribes of Montana will be the deciding vote. I see two white men, who will debate on who is more Montanan from 4rd generation to 7th generation, all while some Native Americans are still 1st generation Americans/Montanans with parents who were once free to their tribal nations. I am a 3rd generation American citizen on paper and Montanan. My grandparents were not papered citizens by the government’s standard because they were born in tipi’s and spoke the languages that the creator gave them. The next question from the two candidates will be an argument about land access and who wants to restrict access to lands in Montana. The Irony of this epidemic issue, is that both political parties have applaud the creation of the Keystone Pipeline. This pipeline will run through traditional lands and create restrictions of land access to tribal members and non-tribal members that reside in that region. I am not one for being poverty porn  driven, so how do we change the narrative in Montana?

We start by remembering who we are as a people. That the resilience of our ancestor’s flow through our veins. It wants us to thrive not just to survive. Empower yourself through asking compelling questions and be humble in learning your traditional ways. Do not follow the Plastic Medicine Man who only is ceremonial when money is involved. Rather, go to sit at the drum of an elder who sings from the heart or head to the grandmother’s house who teaches language from her heart. Just make a effort to change your community. Support the female veteran who hosts community meetings based on the hard talks about meth and youth suicide in our communities. Again, just make the effort. Rather than putting down the Native who comes back to the rez to make difference, stand with them and guide them. Support other tribes directly by standing on the front lines in the face of oppression. Face the same oppression that your ancestors faced for you to be here today. Support the youth who wants to leave the rez to see the world, let them know that they will always have a home when they return. Support each other and love each other, it’s simple, its who we are as a people. This is the start of the narrative but somewhere within that change happens. How is change started is the next question?

I don’t have a formal education, I am not smart enough, I don’t know politics, I will sound stupid, I will wait till I am older, it’s not my problem, I am from the rez, I can’t change anything; these all excuses that I have heard from people throughout the years. I never had any skills at first either. There was no one speaking for our people or any leader acting. I forced myself to become educated on the issues through google and other sources. I started to see common trends such as;

Native American men are incarcerated at four times the rate of white men; Native American women are incarcerated at six times the rate of white women

88% of violent crimes committed against Native American women are carried out by non-native perpetrators.

Native American Youths are 30% more likely than whites to be referred to juvenile court than have the charges dropped.

On some reservations in Montana there is 40-60 unsolved murder cases

I could see the faces of people in my community, who I lost to murder and cases were never solved. I thought about friends, who I will never see for years because they were lost to the profit prison system in Montana. Friends that confined in me about being raped by someone who was still free or white cowboys that told me they didn’t have to follow the law on the rez. Nor did I ever hear politicians mention in their political campaigns meth usage by 12 year olds, meth babies, unsolved murders, non-native perpetrators uncharged, modern-day land grabs, protection rights to clean drinking water, Indian health Service that is underfunded by 50% or the lack infrastructure for Native Communities. So, I headed to and spoke at state legislative hearings, I founded my own nonprofit, I held rallies against anti-Indian groups, I held rallies against the governor of Montana for sending Highway patrol to Standing Rock, I stood face to face with my fellow Native Brothers & Sisters against the United States & the State of North Dakota, I supported my youth members who rallied against racism at Polson High School. I just did it because Facebook shares can only do so much. There is nothing special about me, I am a full-time Business Analytics Student with a family and not much money. All I have is my ancestor’s that live through me. So, when will you make that change?

Now, not tomorrow but right now is the time for you start. Go to political rally’s, google, google, google, Netflix social justice movies, dances with wolves (jks), google, Facebook, twitter, attend city meetings, host meetings, talk to a non-native about native issues but whatever you do don’t be the Indian in the cupboard. The Indian in the Cupboard is the same as a native puppet, who white people tell what is good for them. They only take the Indian out of the cupboard to create racial valorization. Almost like saying, I have an Indian friend so I know what’s good for all Indians. DO NOT BE THAT INDIAN. Be the native who is knowledgeable, connected to your community and understands that change starts by saying no. Tell politician’s or political parties, that you know what is good for your community and what works. We don’t we need a white savior mentally that hinders progress. So, before you use words like sovereignty and self-determination check your white privilege because I am not your Indian in the Cupboard, I am going to ask you what you mean in detail with percentage changes, evaluation metrics, timelines, and exact systemic change plans. This Native has never been an “Indian in Cupboard” type and there is a whole network of us in Montana, so prepare to speak to a generation of Natives that are the realization of our Ancestor’s Dreams.

8 Ways being a Student-Athlete has changed my life

Hey y’all! My name is Hayley Bingham, I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas in a little town called Rockwall.  I started playing golf when I was 13 years old and realized right away it was going to take me far.  I played competitively and found myself in the position to play college golf so I started the process the summer after my junior year.  I went on countless visits and met with players and coaches all trying to get me to their school.  My last recruitment visit was to the University of Montana about three weeks before early signing.  It was my last chance to really find what I was looking for and I did.  Three weeks later I signed my National Letter of Intent and started calling myself a grizzly.

Throughout my four years of being a Griz, I found that being involved in a sport and trying to play at the next level takes courage and discipline. I had to make sacrifices when it came to friends, family, school and a social life. I found myself using my sport as an excuse to get out of going out with friends or taking 8AM classes, but I also realized that it was the reason I had missed out on a lot of things. This was only the beginning, my four years at UM taught me a lot of things about the kind of person I wanted to be, the kinds of people I wanted to surround myself with, and what hard work and dedication really got me.

So here are the 8 ways being a student-athlete has changed my life:

  1. They tell you that you are a “student-athlete” but often you will feel being an athlete comes before being a student.

On my visit and all throughout my collegiate career, all of my advisors and coaches stressed that I was a student before I was an athlete.  But there were times when I found myself having to pick one or the other just like everything else. At the end of the day, my time and energy went into my sport and everything that comes with being a student-athlete. This is just the way it goes, I had to find a way to balance school and golf.  I can remember always having to do homework after 36 hole days and wondering how any of the information stayed in my head.  To this day, I am still convinced that it didn’t!

  1. Sports in college is one of the hardest things you will ever do!

Becoming a college athlete was one of this best moments of my life but nothing had prepared me for the road I was starting down. 6 AM workouts, 4:30 AM wake up calls to make it to the airport, traveling all day long, waking up to compete and then waking up to compete again.  Doing all of these things while trying to stay up on school work and have a social life eventually starts to wear on your mindset and your body.  I remember thinking nothing could get worse than high school athletics but I was wrong.  It was a whole other ball game in college.

  1. Wanting to move on can be normal

A couple times during my four years I thought about quitting or transferring. Things do get hard and sometimes when it seems like nothing is going your way this can seem like the easy way out.  I had a coaching change after my freshman year and I thought about transferring but I was glad I stayed.  My sophomore year I got injured in the second tournament of the season, ultimately stepping in a hole breaking my foot.  I had a long recovery and got depressed and felt like I battled through it all on my own.  There were times during my injury that I thought about quitting but I was really glad I didn’t! After my junior year I had another coaching change and wondered what else could happen?  I was glad that I stayed for my senior year at UM because it was probably one of the best experiences of my life. So, I argue that anyone who is looking to step away or transfer should remember that they picked this university for a reason.  Yes, things do get hard and everyone goes through slumps during their time as a college athlete but preserver through and it will be worth it.

  1. You never take off that Uniform, everyone knows who you are

I believe that no matter where you go to school, if you are an athlete you are known.  I found this out very quickly once I got to UM.  I would go get dinner with some of my teammates and people would point at our poster and then point back at us.  It was so awkward but people knew who we were.  Even if they didn’t know us by name they recognized us and that made me think about the way that I carried myself.

 

  1. Professors will think you have dropped their class, you missed that much school

For me, I can think of many times where I would miss up to two weeks of classes at a time.  I can remember a specific time where I was in class one day and the professor didn’t call my name on the roll.  I remember thinking it was bizarre but just waited until after class to bring it up.  Once class was over, I went down to the professor and told her that she skipped me on the roll.  Her response to me was that she just assumed that I had dropped the class because I hadn’t been there in almost two weeks.  Everything got cleared up but it was one of the weirdest things that has ever happened to me.

  1. Your team is your family, so embrace it!

No matter what, my team will always be a part of me and I consider them to be family.  We went through so much together: wins, losses, losing and gaining teammates, losing and gaining coaches… the list goes on and on.  No matter what we were there for each other and because of that we have a bond that can never be broken.

 

  1. You will build some of the best relationships of your life

I have made some of the best friends from college golf.  We get to go to so many places and meet so many different people that I have met people from all over the world.  I am beyond thankful that college golf is the reason these people were brought into my life.  If I could give anyone advice, it would be to cherish these relationships and make the best of this experience.

  1. Once it’s over, it is over… there is no going back

College golf is over in the blink of an eye, it doesn’t always seem like it but it is.  If there is one thing I have realized, it is that you have to give it your all, all of the time.  Once you make that last putt on the last day of that tournament your collegiate career is over!  I didn’t completely realize this until after the conference tournament was over and I was on the plane back to Missoula, Montana for the last time.

At the end of the day, college golf is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done, but if I had to go back and change it I would do it all the same.  The experience was unlike anything I have ever been a part of and I will always cherish the memories I have made here.  Thank you UM and thank you to all of my family, friends, coaches and teammates who put up with my crazy self along the way.

 

~Hayley Bingham

Fun loving, golf playing, sweet tea drinking southern girl

How To Make String Art


Are you looking for a cute wall piece to liven up your living room, or a cute meaningful gift for someone that is hard to buy for? Why spend a ton of money at a department stores for decorations or gifts, when you could simply make them yourself!

I have always been one for arts and crafts, and with pinterest constantly filling my head with crafty ideas and do it yourself projects, string art just looked and sounded something cool to do! If you know how to handle a hammer and can tie a knot, this project should be easy and fun.

Here are my steps start to finish to help you to successfully make a beautiful and one of a kind string art project perfect for a gift, or simply as a decoration in your own home. Trust me, people will be asking where you got them.

 

Lets Get Started!

 


Step 1: Tools and Supplies

First you must decide what kind of material you would like to work with( wood, canvas, etc.), and collect all of the supplies you will need. In this project, here is a list of the supplies used:

  • Wood (size is optional, however it must be at least a half inch thick to ensure nails can be        hammered deep enough to prevent them from coming loose)
  • Nails- (16mm-25.4mm long)
  • String (color is optional)
  • Printed string art pattern or stencil
  • Hammer
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Hot glue gun (optional)
  • Wood Stain (optional)
  • Paintbrush (optional)

 

 


Step 2: Hammer Time!

For this project, I chose to print out an outline, and tape it to my surface. If you would rather, you can draw the image straight on the surface, and follow the lines that way. The benefit of taping your outline onto the board is that you can remove the stencil later on and not have unwanted lines left behind. It also makes following the pattern very simple and easy.

As you can see in the pattern above, the lines are quite complex. If this is your first time attempting string art, I would suggest a less intricate stencil, and work your way up to more difficult patterns.

When hammering the nails, space them about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch apart.

Once you have finished hammering, go back through and make sure each nail is secure. This is VERY important to do to ensure that while stringing, the nails will not be pulled out, or loosen. This is also crucial to do before the outline is removed because when pulling the outline off, nails that are not secure will come out.

After removing the outline, I chose to stain the piece of wood in order to create a more bold background for the string to stand out from. This step is optional, however, it definitely adds to the piece.

 


Step 3: Ready, Set, STRING!

For this project, I decided to do a thick cross string pattern.

Essentially, there is no pattern to follow, simply begin by tying a double knot around one nail, this will be your starting point. Be sure to leave a long tail to connect your end piece of string with. From there, create the outline for your pattern by looping the string around the outer points of the pattern.

Once you have the outline strung up, begin crossing the string through out out the nails and fill in the pattern. Decide whether you want your pattern to look more ‘holey’, meaning the board beneath is visible, or more filled in where you cannot see the board.


Step 4: Finishing Touches

This step is just for tying up all the loose ends. (Literally)

Be sure that the string is tight and you have gotten the look you want. For extra securing purposes, use a hot glue gun to glue the two trimmed end pieces that are tied together. This is of course optional, however it does help the piece to last for years to come.

Katie Buckley is a University of Montana Senior in pursuit of a Marketing Degree as well as a certificate in Event Management. She loves Pinterest and gains a lot of her DIY inspiration from the creativity of others and hopes to share her own ideas projects with the world and inspire others.

10 things to know about the Hiawatha trail

 #1. It’s a real thing

Opened in 1998, the Hiawatha trail is a 15-mile-long bike trail that operates out of Lookout Pass Ski Area right off of I-90 at exit 0. All amenities such as trail passes can be found at the ski area that opens at 8 a.m.  The actual main trail for the Hiawatha is actually located 7-miles east of the ski area at exit 5 in Montana. The trail is open roughly from the end of May and closes at the end of September every year.

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#2. You don’t need to own a bike to ride the Hiawatha Trail

Okay, that’s a lie, well only slightly. You do need a bike to ride the Hiawatha. However, you do not need to own one personally because you can rent one from the Lookout Pass ski area. Not only can you rent from two choices of mountain bikes for both children and adults, but you can also rent helmets, bike lights and bike trailers.

#3. You will never know what actual time it is

Because the Hiawatha trail main trailhead starts in Montana, but Lookout Pass ski area where you buy your ticket is in Idaho, and Idaho and Montana are in two different time zones it can get very confusing. Now you may be reading this and thinking that it’s logical to just reference Montana time because that’s where the trail starts. But actually half of the trail is in Idaho time because the first tunnel you bike through sends you straightunnamed-1 into Idaho from Montana. But then again be warned, I still don’t know this to be 100% because after riding the Hiawatha many times I still am very confused by the time concept.

#4. It’s fun for the whole family

Or in my case my best friend and I because we’re out of state college students.img_2858 But nonetheless, the Hiawatha trail is a perfect weekend outing for all ages. The 15-mile trail is mostly all downhill so it’s not as strenuous as 15 miles’ sounds. Along with this there are many pullout spots along the trail to take a break, take in the view and have a picnic.

#5. The views are incredible

I personally struggled with staying on the trail because of how pretty the scenery is. If you go later in the season, you’ll be able to see the trees begin to change color. So if you’re somebody who likes to look at everything but where you are going, go slow to avoid a spontaneous trip off the side of the trail.

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#6. There is a light at the end of the tunnel

One of the very cool things about the Hiawatha trail is that it use to a continental railroad system, and contains 7 sky high trestles along with 10 train tunnels. Right out of the gate, bikers will bike through the St. Paul Pass Tunnel which is 1.66 miles long. You will be totally consumed by darkness in this tunnel and it gets very cold. Unless you are Bane from the Dark Knight rises, it’s essential that you have a reliable and bright bike img_2848light, and no your IPhone flashlight will not suffice. It may sound scary to some, but the tunnels are one of the main attraction on the trail and an experience you don’t want to miss. Also, the acoustics in the St. Paul Pass tunnel will convince you that you should’ve auditioned for American Idol.

#7.  Make sure you pack the essentials

As a veteran of the Hiawatha trail I will tell you that it is much more fun if you pack the right things. Some of these necessities for ultimate fun on the trail include a helmet (everyone loves to be safe, also it’s required), gloves (the tunnels get very cold, so gloves come in clutch), a backpack (to hold all your snacks of course), snacks and a sack lunch (to fill your backpack of course. I also recommend img_2901packing a pb&j because it’s the one sandwich that taste best smashed), a bright light (if you have one, if not you can rent one), first aid kit (because better safe than sorry) and water (you’ve got to stay hydrated!). Also I recommend dressing in layers because some parts of the trail are more shaded then others which causes some to be colder than others.

#8. Always buy a shuttle pass

A shuttle pass is not required to buy because it’s possible to ride the 15 miles down to the bottom of the trail and then back up, and some people do this. However, from experience the 15 miles back up to the trailhead is a lot harder than the way down because, well, gravity. But when planning ahead purchasing a $9 shuttle pass so that you have the option to ride on the bus back up to the trailhead is never a bad idea. Better safe than sorry right? You never know what may happen to you on your 15-mile ride to the bottom. You may have plans to be an animal that day and go down and back up, but then realize you’re much more tired after the first half of the ride, or realize it took longer than you thought and you’re short on time. Like I said, it’s better safe than sorry, and also who doesn’t love fun facts and stories about the area provided to you by your very knowledge Hiawatha shuttle driver?  untitled-4

#9. Angels do exist on the Hiawatha trail

I recently learned on my past trip on the Hiawatha trail that angels exist. I was about 5 miles into the trail when tragedy struck and I popped a tire. I realized I was probably SOL because I never planned on popping a tire, because who plans on that? With ten more miles to go I began pedaling my sad self down the now extremely bumpy trail. After a mile or so on my embarrassing flat tire, a red haired angel pedaled up next to me on a blue bike and asked if I needed a replacement. Her name was Emma, or as I call her Angel Emma and she was one of the patrols on the trail that assisted the distressed like myself.  She quickly worked her magic and replaced my tire and sent me on my way. Thankfully Lookout Pass who operates the Hiawatha trail plans for people to have misfortunes down the trail.untitled-3

#10. Take your time on the trail and enjoy the ride

The Hiawatha trail has been dubbed the “crown jewel of rail to trail adventures” and a crown jewel of an adventure it is. Not only do you get to be outside exploring beautiful Montana Idaho but you get to be amongst other friendly cyclists! So enjoy the ride and take the whole day to experience it.

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Sad you missed your chance to ride the Hiawatha trail this season?

Because I know I would be if I missed it, but thankfully I didn’t! And because I didn’t you can experience parts of my ride in this short video.

Enjoy and visit www.ridethehiawatha.com for more information and to plan your trip next season!

 Have a hidden adventure you want to share?

Tell me about it!