Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Claire Charlo will conclude Historic St. Mary’s Mission final Saturday Series on Saturday, Oct. 16.
The event will also serve as the seasonal closing of the mission and the last chance for folks to take a tour of the historic site until it reopens next year.
Charlo’s presentation is titled “Resilience and Art.” Her talk begins at 11 a.m. at the historic mission in Stevensville.
Charlo grew up on the Flathead Reservation, where she was homeschooled. Her parents taught her cultural lessons about medicinal plants, the Salish language, beading and tanning deer hides to make regalia and moccasins.
As a child, she accompanied her father, Victor Charlo, to poetry readings at universities, bookstores and coffee shops. Her love for poetry began with her writing on paper napkins, scratch paper and notebooks.
Spiritual teachings in the sweat lodge and winter ceremonies were part of her youth. Her relationship with the land, plants, animals and the aquatic world was an inspiration that helped create Charlo’s spiritual foundation.
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She eventually left the Flathead to attend Cornell College in Iowa. After graduation, she then moved to the University of Arizona School of Law, where she graduated with a Juris Doctorate.
Charlo works as a civil advocate with the CSKT Defender’s office. In her spare time, she beads jewelry, writes poetry and short articles, organizes awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Peoples and serves as a Land and Water Protector.
Historic St. Mary’s Mission executive director Colleen Meyer said the Saturday Series celebrated the 180th anniversary of the founding of the mission by Jesuit missionaries.
In past years, Historic St. Mary’s hosted a Founder’s Day Celebration on Sept. 24. Five years ago, it held a reenactment to commemorate the 175th anniversary.
“We decided this year to celebrate the anniversary all year round with these monthly educational presentations,” Meyer said.
Speakers with knowledge of a wide variety of topics about the mission and its history shared what they knew with anyone who attended the free presentations.
“We found there were people who attended who had never been St. Mary’s Mission before,” Meyer said. “They were very interested in the talks that we offered. I was very pleased with the outcome of our educational series. It was well received and attended.”