Kids learn about Native American life at Doss youth summer camp

Former Springtown biology teacher Curtis Carter shows campers a bow an arrow, made in the same way Native Americans made theirs.

Kids sat around a large teepee and learned about what kind of tools Native Americans used in the 1860s and 1870s during a day camp on Friday morning at the Doss Heritage and Culture Center. 

The presentation was taught by former Springtown ISD biology teacher Curtis Carter, who researches Native American lifestyles and recreates the clothing and tools. Almost all of the things he brought with him to show the kids—clothing, bows and arrows, toys, tools—are things that Carter made himself in the same way that the Natives would have made them.

“Everybody in North America knows about Indians, but they don’t necessarily know all the little specific things on them,” Carter said. “It’s neat for them to get to see things that they wouldn’t ordinarily get to see. They can ask me questions about things.”

The teepee on display can house six to eight people. Carter asked the children who in the family would’ve owned the teepee, and the kids answered “the man,” but Carter told them that’s a common misconception.

“That’s what everybody thinks, but the women owned the teepee,” Carter said. “The women owned the teepee, and they owned almost everything in the teepee. The men owned their clothes, and they had their weapons, and they owned their horses, and the women owned almost everything else because the women were the ones that made the teepees. They were the ones that tanned the animal skins to make things.”

Everything that they owned had to be portable and easy for Natives to move because they were always following buffalo herds for food, Carter said.

Camper Jack Hunt, 10, said his favorite part of Carter’s presentation was seeing the teepee. Hunt said he thought that the teepee would be smaller than it actually was, like the smaller ones that he and his fellow campers made as part of the camp.

“It was very interesting to see how it was actually the realistic size,” Hunt said.

Carter also explained how Native Americans used rocks to make paint, buffalo horns for drinking cups and bladders for a water canteen.

Camper Cooper Calhoun, 9, said he liked when Carter showed the games that Native American kids would play with.

“It’s cool how they actually used materials from animals to make something they played with,” Calhoun said.

DHCC is hosting kids’ camps for the first time since about 10 years ago, Museum Affairs Director Amanda Edwards said. Civic Development Inc, which supports civic, benevolent, charitable and educational causes in Parker County, helped fundraise to revamp the education programs, and DHCC received a grant for their educational programs, too. DHCC hosted a pioneer-themed camp earlier this month, and the cattle drivers camp will start on July 10. The day camps last for three days and cost $60 per child.

“We want to get the word out about what we’re doing and how we’re trying to bring history to life through these programs, just know that we’re trying to connect kids to their heritage and have them experience things that they don’t get anywhere else,” Edwards said.

More information is available at dosscenter.org/doss-summer-camps/

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