A traditional tribe meeting is held at least once or twice per month in families’ homes on a rotating basis. Although the meeting is usually held in the home, it can also be at some pre-arranged location such as a meeting room of your local church, library, community center, etc. Size of the tribe may also dictate here. Try to have meetings year-round.
Planning and Running a Tribe Meeting
The host family will usually be responsible to plan and provide the craft, refreshments, games, etc. These are all part of planning a meeting. The Chief will officiate the meeting, then turn it over to the host. A traditional tribe meeting will usually contain the following:
- Opening and closing ceremony
- Scouting Reports
- Craft Project
Opening and Closing Ceremony
Be flexible and tailor it to the needs of your tribe but try not to remove the traditional and ceremonial components.
The scouting reports are presented by the children. Each child is given the opportunity to tell the tribe about an experience (or report on a subject) that has happened to them in the past month. The Tribe Chief may assign a subject. The types of subjects can be endless: things in nature, tribal Indian lore, athletics, animals, hobbies, family fun, favorite Bible stories, vacations, etc. If the tribe prefers, the children can tell of their favorite parent/child experience from the past month, such as a taking a hike or attending a sporting event together. The children can also tell of a special personal happening that has recently occurred.
Scouting reports are an important part of the tribal ritual. They develop self-confidence in the child by teaching them to stand before the group and express themselves. The parent should make sure the child is prepared before the meeting to avoid an embarrassing situation. Scouting reports are encouraged, but not a mandatory part of the tribe meeting. Occasionally, it may be a good idea to reward the son or daughter for their scouting reports with a bead, eagle claw, feather, etc.
Ideas for craft projects are plentiful. Those with a nature or Indian theme (great for building your stock of Indian regalia), are always popular. Many seasonal crafts can also be a hit with the children. Keep your project selection simple enough so the children can complete with help from their parent, yet remain interesting enough for all of their age groups. If the craft project will take longer than the allotted time, consider preparing part of the craft in advance of the meeting. Pre-bagging also saves time passing things out. Your craft selection will determine whether or not parents can make the craft for themselves as well. Parents love crafts too!
Choose a game that includes all tribe members, even parents. Adult participation in the game is important. Consider going outdoors if possible, as this is usually the loudest portion of the meeting.
It is usually good to follow the game with a story as it allows the group to settle down and refocus. Many Indian-related stories are available from the program-support materials which teach a lesson while sparking discussion. The N.S.D.P. manual also contains a few stories in Chapter 11. Take a trip with your child to your local library to find additional stories.
Storytelling and teaching the ways of the Indian, go hand in hand. However, always remember the great words of one of the great storytellers of our modern times, Walt Disney:
“I would rather entertain and hope they would learn,
than to teach, and hope they were entertained!”
The tribe meeting could include a number of other appropriate activities such as talks by the Chief; show-and-tells of hobbies or pets; songs; devotions; etc.
These are served at the end of all activities, just before closing. Limit these to a dessert or two, and some form of beverage. Be aware of any children and/or parents that have special dietary restrictions or allergies. Homemade goodies are usually a favorite. Many times homemade desserts are fashioned around the season such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
Attendance at Meetings
As this is a parent and child program, the parent must attend the meeting with the child. BE ON TIME to your tribe meetings! A meeting that starts late will end late. This can leave children tired the next day, if held on a school night. A meeting schedule should be established as soon as possible so host families are aware of their meeting date. Meetings should be scheduled on the day most acceptable to all. Assigning a calendar of meetings at the start of the program year seems to be most effective. Try sticking to same day of week because everyone can plan those dates well in advance.