Despite frequent snow squalls, almost 1,000 children from Montana and Idaho schools attended Coyote Camp at Big Hole National Battlefield in the last full week in May. During this five-day program, tribal cultural demonstrators from the Nez Perce and Umatilla reservations explained parts of their culture and shared hands-on activities.
With as many as 200 students arriving daily, park staff divided the students into eight smaller groups for 30-minute battlefield tours and cultural demonstrations that took place in the park’s housing area. The kids rotated from station to station, with a half-day spent on the battlefield and a half-day witnessing cultural demonstrations.
Students, teachers, and staff made the best of bad weather to increase understanding of two ancient cultures: the Nez Perce and Cayuse. For most participants, this program provided a first-time interaction with the Nez Perce and Cayuse peoples. Teachers thanked staff repeatedly for the program.
Coyote Camp was born out of necessity – to provide visitor information while the park’s Visitor Center closed for almost a year’s worth of renovations. This year’s program was a huge endeavor with every employee of the park working together to make it happen, including the park’s three newest employees who arrived for work just one week earlier.