Helena area honors Native American High School graduates

Graduate receiving stool
Posted at 9:01 AM, May 24, 2024

HELENA — Star quilts and an honor song were a few of the traditions that graduating Native American High School seniors experienced at a special celebration Thursday night.

Honor song

"It reminds me of almost like a powwow, how all families come together for a gathering and a celebration of graduating on to the next life. It's very big for Native Americans - saying, 'Now they are done learning, they can go on [and] Explore the new," said Helena High School's Trenton Salway.

He was one of roughly 50 students that were honored.

Salway plans to attend Montana State University next fall to study civil engineering.

Grad balloon

He said, "I am most excited [about] what I can achieve later down on the line."

Amanda Walking Child is the Helena School District instructional coach for Indian Education For All.

She honored all students there, especially her twin sons, who are graduating next month.

Walking Child twin graduates

"We don't have a huge population, but when they're here and they're celebrated, they feel special. And it makes me feel happy that I'm able to do that for them," said Walking Child.

She makes the stools for each of the Native American students each year.

Students also receive a gift bag and Helena Indian Alliance gifted smudge boxes.

A few students were also gifted star quilts that their family members made through a class hosted by Helena Indian Alliance.

Star quilt

Helena and Capital High Schools graduate on June 1.

Editor's note: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated the star quilts were made at a class with Helena Public Schools. The quilts were made in a class through the Helena Indian Alliance.