Weatherford Democrat

November 15, 2013

American Heritage girls experience Native American living


Weatherford Democrat

— More than 100 American Heritage Girls and leaders gathered around a council fire the night of Nov. 8 at Weatherford’s Camp Holland to learn about Native Americans and hear the sounds of a Native American flute and hand drum and the voices of Sayani.

Sayani, a Native American musical mother and daughter team, sang songs in their native tongue and in English. The weekend camp out hosted by Troop Tx5160 from Weatherford had girls participating in a wide range of activities that would have been done by Native Americans in the past, from knife and tomahawk throwing, archery, travois races (lashing), fire building, ring and pin and double ball.

The campsites were filled with Native American items the girls made in preparation for the camp, including sample dwellings, rabbit skins the girls tanned themselves and pioneering projects adorned with feathers, rocks, shells and arrowheads. Each troop had a flag and many had banners they made to represent their given tribe.

The girls participated in a Native American cooking contest. Judges were brought in from the community. The judges were treated to a wide variety of Native American meals, all prepared by the girls, including the meal provided by the local troop that included muscovy duck stew with a duck they butchered and prepared themselves that they then marinated in molasses and herbs. The stew included vegetables the girls had raised and herbs they had harvested from the land.

To complement this main course the girls ground their own mesquite beans using a mortar and pestle and made their own flour. To top off the meal they made roasted pumpkin seeds in the dutch oven. They then served their meal in containers they made out of gourds and a serving platter they lashed together. The meals were presented to the judges inside of an authentic 20-foot-tall teepee, and many girls were wearing Native American regalia.

Camp Director LeAnn Russell commented, “Even though in reality the girls were in the middle of the city, Camp Holland gives the feeling of truly being out in the country. The nights are filled with the sights and sounds of wildlife with owls hooting and raccoons looking for leftover ‘Smores. In the early mornings the campers were greeted with deer and a melody of songbirds.”

The campers ended the outing by performing projects to leave the campground better than they found it and with a wealth of memories as they headed back to their homes, with some coming from as far as Shreveport, La., Tulsa, Okla., and Houston. They all fell in love with our quant little city.

To get your 5-18 year old daughter involved in American Heritage Girls, or boys ages 5-18 involved in the brother organization, Trail Life USA, go to ahgonline.org.