Camp Life


The twins love camping. They have been asking for weeks if we can make marshmallows on a fire. But camping in Montana demands a bit of finesse because it’s about as organized as chaos gets. We pack two sets of clothes for the kids, not because they struggle with a potty but because the weather has a knack for sudden climate change. My family jokes that when we get to North American Indian Days up in Browning we get to be reunited with our “Windian” side because the wind never lets up. Some of my most memorable rez kid moments have been fighting a tent in 70 mph winds and rain, but we haven’t had a storm like that in years—*fingers crossed*. I’ll tell you right now though that I much prefer a warm prairie chinook wind to the coastal bone chill that goes along with canoe journeys in Washington State, where we’re also going.

Will the kids love camping after almost four straight weeks of it? Only time will tell! We have plenty of camping to do now until the first week of August, and by then we will all permanently smell like campfire. Dad starts firefighting this summer so camping with the twins all by myself will definitely be entertaining to say the least. My nephew has been staying with us and I’m hoping not to lose any cool auntie points because there won’t be fortnight in our actual fort. But, hey, as an 11-year-old you never forget trying to sleep through the midday heat in a tipi on the open prairie! I plan on trying to go berry picking while we are in the homelands because it doesn’t quite feel like summer unless the kids eat all the berries before you get back to camp. Am I right?

On a more serious note, I will be returning to the powwow circle, it’s never too late right? My moccasin soles might counter that argument—they are definitely overdue for some new hide. My daughter asks at least 21 questions every time I pull out my beadwork or sewing machine to work on my dress. She has been practicing her stiches with my mom and even though she is just four I think she is more than ready to start learning the tricks of the trade. Her Makah blood justifies learning to weave so maybe while we are out hunting for berries we will check out spots for stripping cedar later in the year.

Even though my summer plans are pretty unplugged, I still have to keep track of deadlines. That is just college life—planning your life eight months before it needs to be planned. I am glad I have filled this summer with cultural activities because as a senior it’s hard not to start to resent school. I gotta remind myself though, I have worked hard to be this close to the end and if I am serious about a master’s or a doctorate, I gotta keep my head out of the clouds and put my nose to the grindstone. So, in that way, a summer of culture-induced revitalization still serves to prepare me for my last winter here at school.

Celina Gray (Blackfeet and Little Shell Chippewa) is a student at Salish Kootenai College and the mother of twins.

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