Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 2, November 2011

Blackfoot Nation chief speaks to FFA convention-goers
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Indiana:  Earl Old Person is 82-years old and one of the longest serving chiefs of the Blackfoot Nation in Montana. Recently, Old Person spoke to thousands of teens packed into Conseco arena for the Future Farmers of America (FFA) National Convention.

Future Farmers of America is an agricultural education group for youth.  Old Person was glad to speak regarding FFA's  long-standing ties to Native Americans.

"I am inspired by young people who love agriculture, leadership and the pursuit of their education," he said.

FFA has long been active on tribal lands. Old Person belonged in the 1940s. Today, 210 chapters have Native American members.

Dozens of Native American FFAers showed up to celebrate FFA and Native people. They carried tribal flags and blankets to present to FFA national leaders.


BARSTOW CASINO MAPJacob Norte, 17, is from the Los Coyotes reservation in Calif. He presented a Pendleton blanket at the ceremony.

"This celebration means a lot to me,"
he said.  "Native Americans were very instrumental in the beginnings of American agriculture."

Norte said the FFA chapter at his school is teaching crop-growing skills. He and others hope to use these skills at a newly opened greenhouse on their mountainous reservation.

Dawnae James, 16, is a member of the Navajo Nation in Arizona. She and nine others from her chapter attended the ceremony.

James said the traditional Navajo turquoise rings she wore on both hands are big hits with fellow FFAers.

"I want to show people where I come from,"
she said.  "I am proud to show my culture."

Old Person's 10,000-resident Blackfoot reservation is tucked along the Canadian border. He was elated to find his Native American culture front and center on the FFA's main stage.

"It's something good to see," he said. "Everybody wants a connection with one another."

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