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Red Crow Community College – an overview

Red Crow Community College – an overview

Posted by on oct 23, 2012 in all posts, Canada, Red Crow Community College |

Here in southern Alberta, we have been very warmly welcomed by people associated with Red Crow Community College, especially Cynthia Chambers (professor of education at Lethbridge University), Narcisse Blood (a Blackfoot elder from Red Crow), Ryan Heavyhead and Duane Mistaken Chief (two lecturers from Red Crow), Ramona Big Head (lecturer in education at Lethbridge University), Nora (the librarian at Red Crow) and Adrienne Heavyhead and Alvine Mountain Horse (both of whom work on Blackfoot ecological knowledge).

Red Crow Community College is a post-secondary college spread over two campuses, one on the Blood Reserve (one of the Blackfoot confederacy bands) the other in the university city of Lethbridge. The college has around 270 students and around 40 staff and teaches a range of courses, such as English, Math, Social Studies, Science  and Kainai (Blackfoot Studies) designed to integrate students who have been out of school for a year or more into the university system. What made the college distinct from other colleges we know is the 2-year Kainai (Blood tribe) Studies course they have offered since 2005. In this course students learn the Blackfoot language from Duane, Blackfoot history, geography and religion from Narcisse, and from Ryan they are inducted into how to learn from the land and animals of this region as well as how to use these for traditional foods.

We had many hours of wonderful dialogue, learning from Cynthia, Narcisse, Ryan, Adrienne, Alvine, Ramona and Duane during our 3 week stay. The inspiring effects of the course on a number of students we talked to was clear to see. Many spoke of rediscovering their history, their identity, of reconnecting with their ancestors, with grandparents, their land, and most importantly with a sense of pride and value of a way of life that had been oppressed for many decades.

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The journey to Red Crow …

The journey to Red Crow …

Posted by on oct 22, 2012 in all posts, Canada, on the road, Red Crow Community College |

We feel very lucky to have started our journey to southern Alberta, Canada, in Blackfoot traditional territory after about 1,500 miles of driving and exploring.  Our route was longer than perhaps needed, but we managed a couple of nights of camping in wilderness areas and a couple of National Parks… this map covers the route we took from Klamath Falls, Oregon to Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada with explanations embedded within the journey.
View The drive to Canada in a larger map

We left Klamath Falls, Oregon (Kelly’s hometown) in early September and headed east to spend a first night camping in Steens Mountain Wilderness area.  Steens is remotely situated in southeastern Oregon.  This section of Oregon is one of the least populated areas of the continental United States, only 7,000 people live within a county that is at least 4 times the size of the state of Rhode Island.  Steens has dramatic glacially carved canyons.  The highest point is over 9,000 feet in elevation.

Photo taken by Kelly of Kiger Gorge, one of several glacially-carved canyons at Steens Mountain Wilderness area.

During our first night, at Steens, as darkness crept in, the sky beheld an intense clarity and we laid on the ground to witness the entire Milky Way traversing the sky amidst untold numbers of stars.

Photo taken by Kelly at Steens Mountain Wilderness Area at sunset, looking away from Fish Lake after we set up camp for the night.

We continued our journey across the desolate but strikingly beautiful high desert of eastern Oregon, passing but a handful of cars over a 4-hour stretch until we reached the Idaho border.  Crossing Idaho was anticipated for each of us as Kelly had not been here since childhood and it was Udi’s first time in the state.  Unfortunately, wildfire smoke seemed to blanket the entire state and there was limited viewing as we drove toward the Wyoming border.

Photo taken by Kelly about 20 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, in Montana of a huge wildfire in the Absaroka Mountains.

This summer, across all states in the western US, there were more wildfires than ever before. Late summer is now referred to as ‘fire season’ and is expected to get worse in the years to come, particularly as the climate becomes increasingly drier with more serious droughts expected to occur.  Nearly all of the wildfires across the western US were from lightning.  The increase and intensity of wildfires is related to climate change.  This was but one instance in which we directly witnessed the effects of changing climate patterns.

Photo taken by Udi of the Grand Tetons.

When we reached the Wyoming border, we turned north, heading slowly through Grand Tetons National Park and then camping for a night in Yellowstone National Park.  Both National Parks are a feast for the senses, dramatic peaks rising up from a valley floor (that is the Tetons), old-growth ever-green forests, crystal-clear and fast-flowing rivers, steaming geysers and colorful pools of boiling waters and mud and an array of wildlife that are rarely seen elsewhere in the continental US, including grizzly bears, wolves, moose and buffaloes.

Photo taken by Udi near to Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone National Park.

Sleep that night camping at Yellowstone did not come in abundance, as the temperature plunged below freezing and the bugling of the male elks (it being mating season) was not exactly a soothing sound.  However, we immensely enjoyed the natural wonders of both parks and reluctantly exited at the north end, entering into Montana.

Photo taken by Udi of us (at least our ‘shadow side’) in front of a colourful boiling pool near to Old Faithful geyser.


Photo taken by Udi of a buffalo herd at Yellowstone National Park

The drive across Montana was relatively clear until we reached Billings, when again the air was saturated with wildfire smoke.  We drove as far as Missoula before spending another night and leaving the next day with the anticipation and excitement of traversing Glacier National Park before crossing into Canada.

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