Santa Claus is coming to Crow

Native Women Empowering Women organizes Crow Agency’s first Christmas Stroll
Thursday, December 20, 2018

Photo by Andrew Turck

Tatum Little Light (center) smiles for the camera next to Santa Claus at Little Big Horn College’s arbor, along with her brother Zephaniah, the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 11 during Crow Agency’s first Christmas Stroll. The event was organized through a collaboration between Native Women Empowering Women and local community members.

Photo by Andrew Turck

Niki Stewart (left) and Kathleen Carpenter stand in Little Big Horn College’s Student Union Building near the conclusion of the Christmas Stroll. Together, they are the Native Women Empowering Women group.

Photo by Andrew Turck

An inflatable Minion decoration is depicted driving a car in Little Big Horn College’s arbor.

Community efforts brought a slice of Christmas to the Little Big Horn College arbor the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 11, complete with sparkling yuletide lights adorning decorations that included Minions, reindeer, trees and Snoopy on a doghouse. By 6 p.m., Santa Claus arrived atop a fire truck and held court at the entrance, passing out candy canes and gift-filled stockings to dozens of children.

It was Crow Agency’s first ever Christmas Stroll, which began 4 p.m. and continued for more than three hours. A group called Native Women Empowering Women (NWEW), which started this spring, held the event as their first project in conjunction with the Crow Reservation town’s Holiday Bazaar scheduled at 10 a.m. that morning. Hundreds participated in the festivities.

“You all have purpose and you all have something to bring to the table,” Lodge Grass Mayor Quincy Dabney told gathered residents at the LBHC Student Union Building in the lead-up to Santa’s arrival. In Lodge Grass, he had organized residents to beautify the town by picking up trash. “Don’t ever get discouraged. Even if it feels like you’re doing something small, it’s still making an impact in your community.”

The Christmas Stroll & Holiday Bazaar were formed thanks to a meeting between NWEW group members Kathleen Carpenter, tourism director for the Crow Tribe, and Niki Stewart, a local entrepreneur. Carpenter, in her estimation, is the “more business-minded” side of NWEW – crafting proposals and presentations – while Stewart heads up the group’s marketing and public relations.

“We sat down and talked about our community and what we had envisioned for our community,” Stewart said. “What we wanted to bring to Crow Agency: Something that had never been done before.”

At the event, Carpenter continued, they aimed to provide a place where residents could “enjoy free pictures with Santa, free cocoa, free food.”

“Everything was free,” she said, “so the parents didn’t have to stress out in bringing the kids for a family event.”

Stewart and Carpenter knew early on they couldn’t buy all of the supplies on their own, so they met with area residents to gain financial backing, volunteers and supplies. According to Stewart, the response exceeded their expectations.

“It wasn’t [just from] Crow or Lodge Grass,” Carpenter said. “We also had donations from Hardin and Billings.”

Despite Hardin being located outside the reservation, Stewart added, they consider it part of their community “because it still is Big Horn County.”

Event sponsors were Center Pole Foundation; both Lodge Grass and Reese & Ray’s IGA; Crow Nation Resource Center; Lowe’s; Crow Mercantile; Sam’s Club; Family Dollar; and the Crow Tribe’s Abandoned Mine Lands, Department of Social Services and Department of Media.

“The name, Native Women Empowering Women,” Carpenter said, “we hope it catches on so we can have more community members want to participate.”

“It’s Native women, not Crow or Cheyenne,” Carpenter emphasized. “All women.”

NWEW currently is organizing their next event, Stewart said, but “it’s still top secret.”

For more information on the organization, call Carpenter at (406) 623-0453 or Stewart at (406) 861-0780. To contact them by email, go to carpenterkathleen39@yahoo.com or nnstewart89@hotmail.com.

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