Native American Teens Learn How to Build a Tepee - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Native American Teens Learn How to Build a Tepee

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One group of teens is spending a week together at camp.

It's a week of fun, hard work, and ultimately, it's meant to build leadership skills.

You can smell the bug spray in the air.

The sun is shining and it's the perfect day to practice putting up a tent.

"Not a lot of people nowadays know how to build it," says Briar Lebeau.

...but this isn't your typical one.

Native American teens are learning how to assemble a tepee.

"It's a big part of our culture, you know, and I want to learn how to do it because back then the women were the ones who set up the tepees so that's something that's important to me," says Shayla Gayton, President, ND Indian Youth Leadership Academy.

Shayla Gayton is one of 32 high school students from various tribes across the state who take part in the Annual North Dakota Indian Youth Leadership Academy at Cross Ranch.

For the first time in the five years of this camp, they're learning about tepees...from their history to today.

"A lot of our families have tepees, you know, families own tepees for powwows, for camping, for ceremonies and so forth too so the tepees evolve but it's been around from our time too," says Scott Davis, Exec. Director, ND Indian Affairs Commission.

Teens are not only learning about Native American culture and how to set up a 16 foot tepee, but they're also taking away valuable lessons that will help them in the future.

"It helps me to become a better leader and to speak up for what I believe in," says Gayton.

"It's just helping me become my own person and not being scared to speak up for myself on like what I don't like, and help change stuff around my tribe so I can just do better," says Lebeau.

And their ability to lead their people will help pave the way for generations to come.

Davis says their week is full of fun games, morning walks, prayer, talking circles, and even a trip to Raging Rivers.


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