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The Natives Issue

Boys and Girls

People like to complain here on the reservation. That’s what they do because that’s what they grew up doing and hearing. Parents say there’s nothing for their kids to do here, but this club has been open for two years under my direction.
TW
Κείμενο Tony Wagner
1.1.06

People like to complain here on the reservation. That’s what they do because that’s what they grew up doing and hearing. Parents say there’s nothing for their kids to do here, but this club has been open for two years under my direction. We recruit kids through the schools mostly. We’ll go up there at lunchtime or after school. A parent can come out and enroll their kid too. It costs five bucks a year. If they can’t afford that, we’ll give them a scholarship. We’ll ask the kids to do something around the club here to work that $5 off. One thing I could really use the funding for is snacks and food. Some of these kids get one meal a day. The hardest thing here is not having enough funding to serve all the kids all the time. We did a Thanksgiving dinner here for the regulars that have been coming out. We had to do that out of our own pocket. It must’ve been 70 kids plus their parents that we cooked for. So it was more of a potluck thing that we did. I purchased the turkeys and the potatoes and the dressing. I laid out $150 myself; we asked the kids and their parents to bring a side dish. We’re in the center of one of the biggest Blackfeet housing areas here. It’s all HUD housing, and that’s where our kids come from. This neighborhood is called Glacier Homes. All the kids are at risk out here. We have a gas station that sells alcohol right there on the corner. If a kid wants it, there it is. I know what it’s like to live off the rez. I grew up on and off the rez. I did my last three years of high school, and then the summer after I graduated, I was gone for ten years. I came back, I guess, because of that old adage about going out and doing something for yourself, then coming home and helping your community. I came back at first as a football coach at the high school. I was the in-school suspension monitor too. I get some problem kids in here. We mostly deal with bullying. There was one kid who would always be trying to fight. First I tried the time-out method. The second and third time, we called his mom. But the parent never came in. To deal with the problem, we need the parent to come in. So we had to tell the kid, “Unless your mom comes in and talks to us, we can’t let you back in here.” He stormed off and threatened to kill my staff. This was a little kid! That’s how things are around here these days. TONY WAGNER