NCPC: Meet Mountaine Jonas

//NCPC: Meet Mountaine Jonas
NCPC: Meet Mountaine Jonas 2017-05-24T21:26:10+00:00

Mountaine Jonas, Treasurer

In support of the Youth and the Future

Youth Outreach

Is time going by? Are you and I aging? The calendar (and the mirror) say yes! When I joined the Board several years ago, I felt it was important to increase our outreach to younger people, who might become ceremonial leaders (and elders) in the future. I’m very happy to say this outreach has been going really well.

Within the Dance For All People community, Clyde identified two young Naraya dancers to work with – Everic Dupuy (Blackfoot) and Tyler “High Up There” Pounds (Choctaw).With our support, Everic attended a Sundance (“okan”) on the Blood Reserve in Alberta, and was involved for two weeks in preparing for the ceremony. Says Everic: “The sundance I went to is essentially a Lakota sundance, except that the etiquette and language is Blackfoot. The reason for this is that the piercing part of the original Blackfoot okan was banned for so long that no one remembers how to do it. So, the ceremony had to be passed down through another nation. During the dance, I helped with fire tending, sweat lodges, and carrying the buffalo skull for the beginning and end dance of each day.” Everic also visited his Montana family for the first time in 10 years, represented the NCPC at the Montana 2-Spirit Gathering (where members of all four Blackfoot nations met and began to plan future events), and then stayed with Clyde in Fort Hall for 2 weeks (joining Tyler who was already there).

Tyler Pound’s NCPC-sponsored activities were all in Fort Hall – he was there 5 weeks, participating in sweat lodges and the Shoshone-Bannock Sundance. Tyler explains: “ I also learned about the different plant medicines that are used and gathered for the Sundance ceremony itself, and how support is given by outside ‘helpers’ for the dancers inside the Sundance lodge.… I also learned how to build and construct native ceremonial clothing and accessories; I constructed a bone hair pipe breast plate and concho belt for my pow wow outfit with Clyde’s assistance. I found out that these things take time to make quality items worth wearing.” When Everic arrived, the two assisted Clyde and Howard Rides-At-The-Door in putting up their tipis for the Shoshone-Bannock Festival. Summing up his experience, Tyler said, “Overall I feel that this internship has better prepared me for my future life, as ‘teachings’ came with my involvement with what I was doing at that time with Clyde and other native people I was with. I received a better understanding of how the Dance For All People Ceremony works, the NCPC, and a better insight to the Sundance and other ceremonies.”


Shoshone Tribal Youth Enrichment Camp

In addition, NCPC has provided support to the Tribal Youth Enrichment Camps, a new project of the Shoshone Bannock Language and Cultural Preservation Department, to reintroduce tribal youth to their heritage and culture. According to Leo Airwite, Liaison Coordinator, NCPC funding helped provide “a four-day hike into the Frank Church Wilderness from Lolo Creek campground to Dagger Falls (Sacred ground to the Shoshone). Through the teachings of our people, we will allow the youth to understand the foundations of providing for and protecting not only each other but the families and people of the tribe, through respecting each other and protecting their treaty rights for the future. It is from the past, that the future is protected.” A gift to the Lillian Vallely School also helped Shoshone Bannock youths reconnect with their culture.

We hope to continue to support these and other youth-oriented projects, with your help, protecting the future by connecting young people with the practices of their ancestors.

On a Personal Note

After several years of service, I can say confidently that I LOVE being on this Board. In my early years of Naraya ceremonies, I resisted getting too involved either spiritually or administratively, because much of my lifetime of working in nonprofits was connected to my following a guru as a dedicated (and rather disempowered) follower. Despite the many benefits of that commitment, when I left I felt really complete with being a follower, and didn’t want to repeat anything like it ever again! It took me a long time to release those “old bones”, and to feel secure in contributing to this work without compromising my integrity. By the time I was invited to be on the NCPC Board, I knew I could really enjoy and benefit from being more involved without giving up my power. My journey to the Naraya and to the NCPC Board has been one not of subservience, but of service within empowerment. My love of the Naraya goes very deep, and it is a huge pleasure to know that the time I spend on the NCPC has value for the community. It certainly has great value for me!