St. Labre Indian School prides itself on the core values of “Respect, Excellence, Integrity, Stewardship, Spirituality, and Justice.”
In the Plains Indian Museum, our staff had the incredible opportunity to meet a group of strong and inquisitive young women. These students exemplified St. Labre’s core values. St. Labre students Bailey Chalfant (Cheyenne); Taylor Dennis (Cheyenne/Sioux); Leslie Solorzano (Cheyenne/Arapaho); Kaelene Spang (Crow/Cheyenne); Daejae SpottedElk (Cheyenne); and Florence Whiteman (Cheyenne/Sioux) accompanied by Philippe Franquelin and Cecilia Thex joined Center staff members for a two day museum studies experience. The Center was also fortunate to have Northern Cheyenne spiritual leader Francis Limpy and his wife Vonda, accompanied by Marcelline Shoulder Blade bless the students for protection and guidance.
The young women learned museum practices, in conjunction to those studied in their cultural beadwork and museum studies classes. The students learned firsthand how to prep objects for display such as cataloging, mount making, and display installation. With all these tools, the young women chose a number of objects which were placed on display in the Plains Indian Museum.
It was important to the girls to honor the artisan tradition of their ancestral mothers in their exhibit. The girls chose a number of articles with quillwork such as these gauntlets and this toy soft cradle. The students especially liked pieces that young children would use such as toy cradle boards and the cup and pin game. According to Kaelene Spang, “So the big topic of our exhibit was quillwork. We did include some beadwork but the main message that we wanted to give to the public was the transition from quillwork to beadwork. We chose quillwork because we wanted to recognize it, as it isn’t practiced as much anymore on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations. We found that it is extremely important to us as young Indigenous women.”
Bailey’s Experience: “The trip to Cody was much more than I could have ever expected it to be. It was a good feeling to be surrounded by like minded people who had the same goals as you. It was especially gratifying to see the work we did–on display.”
Florence’s Experience: “Buffalo Bill’s Center of the Wild West has taught me a lot about museums and how much work they put into it. It was a great experience after all and we got to get a taste of museum work. The staff there was really nice and polite. It was a great learning experience overall.”>
Kaelene’s Experience: “The very first moment that we stepped on to the floor of the museum I knew I was going to enjoy this experience. This trip is something that I went on before in the past school year (my Sophomore year), but this time there was something that just grabbed my attention.”
Leslie’s Experience: “The Cody trip was definitely better than what I thought it was going to be. Getting to have hands on experience had the most impact on me. It was almost like time traveling. I got to touch and see some artifacts that date back to 200 years ago. Also, getting to experience all of this with girls who all share the same mentality was pretty awesome. Pretty powerful I’d say.”
Taylor’s Experience: “I think going to Cody for the second time was better. I understood how important this trip was. I had a deeper connection to some of the things we talked about because Hunter and Rebecca and also the group of girls I went with. They made me really think about the opportunities we had. I was really fortunate with this opportunity.”
In preparation for their visit, the students were asked to research a number of pieces they wanted to see.