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Crow Students Address Cultural Misconceptions In NPR Podcast Challenge

Maddie Alpert
Yellowstone Public Radio
Students in Connie Michael's fifth grade classroom at Crow Agency

NPR’s recent Student Podcast Challenge received entries from 25,000 students across the country. That includes a group of fifth graders from Crow Agency in southeast Montana.

NPR announced its student podcast finalists earlier this month, and while the Crow Agency students didn’t win, NPR host Rachel Martin gave their submission a nod in a segment about standout entries.

The students’ teacher, Connie Michael, said she saw the call for entries online, and it made her think of a trip she took to Washington D.C. last year to work with the Smithsonian on their American Indian museum.

She said she was surprised by the misconceptions she heard while on the east coast.

“So, I told the kids that,” said Michael. “And told ‘em that a lot of the people think they don’t exist anymore or that they still live in teepees and ride horses and hunt for their food, so they wrote scripts to inform other kids about what we do out here in Montana.”

During a visit with Michael’s fifth grade class last week, students were proud to share the Crow language, dances, and songs.

In their submission to NPR, they gave a look into their lives and cleared up misconceptions people may have about Crow culture.

One student said, “We use modern stuff now like ipads, iphones, cars, houses, and TVs.”

Another student said, “We ride horses for fun, we listen to rappers, we have pow wows, we dance parade.”

In a visit to the classroom, we sat in a circle, and some of the kids talk about why they think it’s important to provide that insight.

“So other people can know about our culture and so they can tell other people,” said one student.

“To keep it alive,” said another.

“To make it not be mistaken ... like how people think what it is,” said still another.

Some students, like Elmer, felt the heavy responsibility of the task.

“To be honest, it was kinda nervous to be speaking for a lot of people,” he said.

You can learn more about the NPR Student Podcast Challenge and hear from other students on the NPR website.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.