The 1,000-mile trek from their reservation in Southern Montana to Oregon has been one of the biggest journeys the Linfield women of the Northern Cheyenne tribe have ever embarked on.
In their first time this far away from home, freshmen Nicole Wilson and twins Arianne and Julianna King set out on a new life adventure this fall.
The Northern Cheyenne tribe sits on the 444,000-acre reservation and is made up of multiple towns, but is centered around Wilson’s hometown of Lame Deer, Mont. Julianna and Arianne King both lived in the neighboring town of Busby. While the entire reservation is made up of almost 4,939 people, Lame Deer is the home to the majority of the reservation with 2,052 people, according to the 2010 census.
The three had to travel off the reservation to attend school, often times traveling up to an hour every morning.
“We did this for 12 years,” Wilson said. “I’d have to be on the bus by 7 a.m. or I wouldn’t make it.”
With the towns on the reservation being small, there wasn’t always a lot to do for Wilson and the King sisters.
“Since there wasn’t much to do, we all played sports throughout school,” Arianne King said. “That took up a lot of time, especially with commuting back and forth.”
Other than school activities, the three participated and attended pow-wows.
“There’s a big [pow-wow] every year on Fourth of July,” Julianna King said. “There’s dances and other performances to watch. A lot of people come from all around. It’s just like a big [gathering], where people come back after they moved away, and we get to see a lot of friends and family.”
Both Arianne and Julianna King used to dance in the pow-wows when they were younger.
“We both used to jingle dance, until we grew out of our outfits,” Julianna King said.
Although the three freshmen grew up together on the small reservation, they were surprised by the differences between their home and Oregon.
“It was a big shock,” Arianne King said. “We were used to a place where everything was so spread out. There are highways to take you to one point to another.”
Coming from an area that doesn’t have consistent cell phone service, the busyness of the cities they’ve encountered has made for an exciting transition.
“The community [back home] is very tight-knit,” Arianne King said. “There, everyone knows what’s going on with everyone.”
“Everyone is also related to everyone,” Wilson said.
While knowing each other most of their lives, Wilson and the King sisters are all looking at following similar paths. All consider nursing as a possible major, but the three are still undeclared.
The biggest difference they’ve found is the lack of other Native Americans nearby.
“I’ve noticed there are not that many Natives around here,” Arianne King said. “I’m not used to it, because we used to be surrounded by only Natives.”
The three Cheyenne women are all members of the new Native American Student Association.
“It’s made for a big transition,” Julianna King said. “But it’s a fun experience. I like getting to meet all the new people. It’s different, but I like it.”
Kaylyn Peterson/Copy chief
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org