GFPS Teepee display

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Last Friday, Great Falls Public Schools started putting up teepees outside of the district building. 

There are 12 teepee's total - one to represent each tribe here in Montana. 

Volunteers pounded the final stakes into the ground this morning, securing the last of the teepees. 

"At my house I've put teepees up in the past in my backyard and put lights in them, and the neighbors all really liked it. So, it kind of was like 'now I have a bunch of teepees, let's put them up,'" Dugan Coburn, the director of Indigenous Education for GFPS, said. 

They are putting up the teepee's in light of Native American Heritage Month. 

"Well, for the Indians that lived in this area, the Plains Indians, they lived in teepee's and moved around with them. So, it's always important to remember it's almost like the land acknowledgement - who was here first? Well, the Natives were and they had teepee's and that's where they lived and moved around. This was actually probably a spot where they probably put teepee's up," said Coburn. 

Along with being up high off of 10th Avenue for everyone to see - it's the perfect location for the teepee's to go up. 

"In the old days would be up here for different reasons, looking for bison, looking for other people to come into the area to trade with," said Coburn. 

Coburn tells Montana Right Now that the Native American culture is blended into the community and the landscape here. .

"Our community there are over 8,000 Native Americans living in Great Falls, in our school district one in seven are Native American. So, it's a big part of our heritage for this part of the country. So, the more people understand the Native culture the better it is for our whole community," said Coburn. 

Starting Nov. 1, each teepee will be lit up.

This week they will all be lit up multiple colors to represent each different tribe. 

The second week of November they will be lit up red for missing and murdered indigenous people (MMIP). 

The third week they will be lit orange to represent the Native kids that died in residential schools. 

For the final week of November they will be multi-colored again ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend. 

Coburn says both Cut Bank School and Great Falls College-MSU called him so they can coordinate their teepee's to match the ones at GFPS. 

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