Montana Northern Cheyenne

Montana Northern Cheyenne
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION 

Northern Cheyenne program is already closed for 2017. Please check out the Montana Blackfeet as a great alternative. The Montana Cheyenne Reservation in Southeastern Montana is home to the VISIONS team during this summer community service program. High school volunteers will earn 60 service hours working on projects that focus on construction, carpentry and social services. Participants will work with the tribe elders and the children of the Cheyenne Reservation. Free time will be spent experiencing the strong community traditions, participating in the annual powwow, and backpacking through the Bighorn Mountains.

  • A VISIONS teen volunteer and program director explore a scenic waterfall in Montana
  • VISIONS volunteers immersed in the culture of Montana at a local rodeo
  • Make real connections with teammates and local residents on a VISIONS Teen Summer trip
  • Experience the Northern Cheyenne culture at a powwow during a VISIONS volunteer trip
  • VISIONS students work hard and have ample time to enjoy local culture and scenery
  • VISIONS volunteers get to experience different aspects of culture in rural Montana
  • A volunteer group poses with staff and local partners after a great day of work
  • Northern Cheyenne dancers in regalia at a powwow in Montana

Welcomed Service

Lack of adequate housing, sparse social resources, and the highest poverty rates in the U.S. are facts of life for Indian reservations today. For two decades VISIONS has accomplished carpentry and social projects in Lame Deer, the reservation headquarters, and Birney, a village on the Tongue River where about one hundred families live. We work with Head Start, Cheyenne Children Services, Dull Knife College and the Department of Housing. Projects include renovations to elders’ homes, building shade structures and picnic tables at community parks, preparing the pow wow arbor for festivals, and volunteering with local children through the Kids Kollege program.

Full Immersion

You will spend time with our Cheyenne friends, learn cultural traditions, hear stories and the native language still spoken by some tribal members. Activities include everything from participating in a sweat lodge ceremony to learning to make Indian fry bread, taking a beading class and sometimes even spotting the tribe’s buffalo herd during its summer grazing. We attend the annual Fourth of July pow wow, where we watch traditional dancers in their regalia, listen to drumming circles, and have a meal at the kickoff communal dinner. You will visit St. Labre Mission in Ashland, one of the largest and most active Indian schools in the West. We also tour the Little Bighorn Battlefield, site of Custer’s Last Stand.

"I one hundred percent enjoyed everything. The projects were rewarding and a lot of fun. This trip was truly an amazing experience from start to finish."

Dana Weinberg – Chappaqua, New York
Our Home Base 
Lame Deer
We live in Lame Deer, a small town with beautiful surrounding views that serves as the business and government center on the reservation. Dull Knife College, neighborhoods, schools, a few stores and restaurants make up this town that is home to approximately two thousand people.
VISIONS began work on Montana Indian Reservations and the Northern Cheyenne in 1991. One of our first partnerships on the Cheyenne was with Mike and Florence Running Wolf, who founded Cheyenne Children Services. Florence comes from a respected Cheyenne family, the Strange Owls, and her great-great-great grandfather was Black Kettle, one of the greatest of the Cheyenne’s chiefs. Along with Mike and Florence, our relationships include tribal leaders, administrators from Dull Knife College, and ambitious community organizers.
Explore Montana

You will go backpacking and camping, swim in cool streams, attend a youth rodeo, and accompany local kids from the Kids Kollege program to a county fair—all under the big Montana sky!

Daily Life

We live together as a group in Lame Deer at the Head Start school, which has everything we need to make our temporary home.

We go to work five days a week, usually ending in the late afternoon. Each day you get to choose from about three different worksites, including carpentry as well as our social service projects. Once a week you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other students and a leader. The crew makes breakfast for everyone, goes to the small grocery store and market to get food for the next meals, does laundry, cleans, and takes in a “day in the life” on the rez.

After work we attend community events, take short scenic hikes, go swimming, participate in a rez tour, spend time with local friends, or sometimes just have downtime before dinner. In addition to after work activities, time is carved out for our full-day excursions.

Meals on VISIONS programs are varied and plentiful, and always with vegetarian and meat options. After dinner a few nights a week, we have group meetings to talk through the volunteer and cultural experience.

VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle in to our home and are part of daily life. The itinerary provides some of the highlights of our time in Montana.

Itinerary

First Day
Last Day
Arrivals to Billings & Drive to Lame Deer
Orientation & Worksite Training
Northern Cheyenne Annual Powwow
Fourth of July Celebrations
Backpacking Trip
Big Horn Battlefield & Rodeo
Community Goodbye Dinner
Departures
  • A VISIONS summer program participant camps out near our home base in Montana
  • A horse grazes on a wide open prairie on Northern Cheyenne lands in Montana
  • The view from a VISIONS summer volunteer's tent during a camp trip in Montana
  • VISIONS high school students explore the Montana landscape
  • Documenting the trip with photos and memories
  • VISIONS volunteers pose at a construction service project in Montana

More Details

Summer leaders receive students at the Billings airport and then travel two hours by passenger vans to Lame Deer. Leaders also see each participant off from the airport at the end of the program.
Parents receive a phone call or email once their child is met by VISIONS leaders at the airport. After that, phone calls home are generally limited to once a week.
We live together as a group at the Head Start school, and boys and girls sleep in separate areas. VISIONS provides thick floor mattress, and participants bring their own pillow and sleeping bag.
VISIONS has a 1 to 4 or 5 leader to student ratio, one of the best ratios among summer programs. The maximum group size is 25, and programs are gender-balanced. Most participants attend alone, and no more than two friends may attend a program together.
We emphasize an inclusive group dynamic. Things like age and grade become less important on a VISIONS program. We eat most meals and do most activities as a large group, and we break into small rotating groups for workdays.
Details such as a packing list, travel notes, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through login web pages. The process is straightforward and we are here to help. VISIONS travel agent books flights, which are not included with tuition
In addition to VISIONS high school summer program in Montana, we offer a middle school travel and service program for ages 12 – 14. Note that 14 year-olds may choose between high school and middle school programs.
70 community service hours; high school travel summer camp program for ages 14 - 18.
Program Director
Montana Northern Cheyenne

NOT QUITE READY?

Our staff loves to assist! We are happy to answer questions and discuss the program locations with you.