BILLINGS, Mont.—Held at Rocky Mountain College, Western Native Voice’s Expanding Horizons Youth Summer Academy provided 40 Native students from across Montana with a unique two-week college experience, with an emphasis on the organization’s key programs: civic engagement, civic education, advocacy, and leadership development.

According to the program director, integrating these essential elements into the academy prepares students for active and informed participation in their communities. The holistic educational approach is a core part of Western Native Voice’s mission to empower Native youth.

Civic Engagement: The academy’s class sessions focused on enhancing students’ understanding of their roles within their communities, highlighting the importance of participation in various civic activities.

Civic Education: The classes touched on governance and civic responsibility aspects, fostering a basic understanding of how these systems can impact their lives and communities.

Advocacy: The program included discussions on community issues, emphasizing the importance of advocating for their rights and interests.

Leadership Development: The program focused on developing personal leadership and self-confidence, which are essential for future success in any field.

A trip to Yellowstone National Park connected students with environmental science and Native stewardship of the land, reinforcing lessons in leadership and civic responsibility. This excursion exemplified how educational themes are integrated with cultural identity.

Seeing these young leaders engage with each element of the program was a clear indication that they were not just preparing for college but also for meaningful roles in their communities. The initiative continues to be a cornerstone of Western Native Voice, providing foundational experiences that nurture the academic, civic, and cultural aspirations of Montana’s Native youth, equipping them with the tools and knowledge to succeed in college and contribute effectively to their communities, ensuring a promising future for these students.

  • Posted on: June 27, 2024
  • Categories: WNV News

Poplar, Montana — On the evening of May 17th, 2024, the rhythmic beats of drums echoed through the Greet the Dawn building in Poplar, where the local community gathered for a round dance hosted by Western Native Voice. The event, which ran from 5 to 9 PM, was not just a cultural ceremony but also a vibrant expression of unity and heritage among the attendees.

Fostering Connections Through Dance

The round dance, an Indigenous tradition that involves participants holding hands and dancing in a circle to a drum’s beat, served as the centerpiece of the evening. This gathering, though modest in size, was rich in spirit, with families and individuals of all ages joining the circle. The sounds of traditional music and drumming not only filled the venue but also symbolized a collective heartbeat, reinforcing community ties.

Cultural Preservation and Civic Participation

“The round dance is not merely a social event; it is a profound celebration of our heritage and an essential part of strengthening our community,” explained an organizer from Western Native Voice. Such events play a crucial role in cultural preservation and are instrumental in boosting civic engagement among Native American populations. Communities that frequently host cultural gatherings have observed up to a 15% increase in voter turnout at elections, a testament to the power of cultural engagement in fostering a politically active community.

An Evening of Peace and Joy

The event offered a peaceful respite from the daily grind, where participants could immerse themselves in their identities and shared histories. The small, intimate crowd allowed for a more personal experience, where the focus was squarely on connection and mutual respect.

As the evening drew to a close, the sense of community and revitalization was palpable. Attendees departed with renewed spirits, reminded of the resilience and vibrancy of their cultural traditions.

  • Posted on: June 10, 2024
  • Categories: WNV News

Western Native Voice Serves With A Heartfelt Mother’s Day Volleyball Celebration at MSUB

Billings, Montana — On May 12th, the gymnasium at Montana State University Billings (MSUB) was alive with more than the usual competitive spirit. It buzzed with the energy of community and celebration, as Western Native Voice hosted a Mother’s Day volleyball tournament that brought together families and athletes from across the region for a day of spirited sport and shared joy.

Competitive Flourish at MSUB

Inside the expansive MSUB gymnasium, an array of teams—ranging from seasoned volleyball veterans to enthusiastic first-timers—demonstrated their prowess on the court. The atmosphere was electric, charged with the echoes of volleyballs being skillfully spiked over nets and the supportive cheers of family and friends, creating a festival of sport that celebrated much more than just physical agility.

Honoring Champions on the Court

The competition was intense, with each team battling not only for victory but also for community pride. ‘Pass and Hitties’ claimed the top spot, distinguished by their sharp coordination and strategic gameplay. They were followed closely by ‘Shank City’ and ‘Kiss My Ace’, who secured the second and third places respectively. Each team’s effort highlighted the day’s high level of sportsmanship and competitive spirit.

Beyond the Physical Game

What set this event apart was its broader significance—the strengthening of community ties through shared celebration. The athletes were there to connect, to celebrate, and to honor the mothers and mother figures whose influence resonates deeply within the community.

A Day of Joy and Community Spirit

As the tournament wound down, the impact of the day was clear. It wasn’t just about who won or lost; it was about coming together, strengthening communal bonds, and celebrating the role of mothers in nurturing these ties. The event left participants and spectators alike imbued with a sense of community and appreciation, marking another successful Mother’s Day at MSUB.

  • Posted on: June 10, 2024
  • Categories: WNV News