25Th Annual St. Croix T.R.A.I.L.S. ‘Youth On the Red Road’ Conference to be held December 12

Hertel, Wisconsin (ICC) 11-08

This year will mark the 25th Anniversary of the St. Croix T.R.A.I.L.S (Traditions Respecting Native American Life Styles) Youth Conference. St. Croix T.R.A.I.L.S and the St. Croix Tribal Council have sponsored the youth conference for the past 25 years.  The conference will be held on Friday, December 12, at the St. Croix Tribal Center gym, located just off of HWY. 70, half way between Spooner and Siren in Hertel, Wisconsin.

The name of the conference, ‘Youth on the Red Road’ is a reminder to Native American youth to keep on the ‘Red Road’ by learning traditional ways and not being drawn into the circle of alcohol or drugs. “The beginning of the road is following traditional values,” said Mark  Soulier, the St. Croix T.R.A.I.L.S. coordinator.  “Having strong moral values in your families leads to a healthy lifestyle which enables you to travel the ‘Red Road,’” he said.

Soulier recounted the first T.R.A.I.L.S. conference in 1983. “Hazel Hindsley, now our Tribal Chairman, started the first youth conference.  She used her insights to help educate our youth about the disease of alcoholism.” The program has grown tremendously since that time under the early  leadership of Sandy Churchill and  Angie Stoner. Soulier was asked to take over the T.R.A.I.L.S. program in 1989. “ I had the experience of many people to help me,” said Soulier. “My father, Merv Soulier and good friends and co-workers Clarence Butler, Gloria Merrill, Stuart Decorah, Hazel Hindsley, Betty Jack and Sandy Churchill were my mentors. They taught me about native traditions and the ways of life here of the St. Croix reservation.”


The one day conference brings together Native American youth from many schools, including Unity schools, Cumberland, Spooner, Shell Lake, Webster, Siren, LCO schools and the LCO Boys and Girls Club. “There is a sense of community among the youth that they are facing many of the same problems…and there is strength in that,” continued Soulier. “The problems are getting more common. Problems like mom and dad fighting and drinking have become more of the norm. Seeing a relative using and perhaps misusing prescription or even over the counter medicines is more common today, too.  Therefore, kids are getting mixed messages thinking this is normal because everyone is doing it in the house.”  Soulier noted, “ This is common among native and non-native families.  The kids are seeing their families using and misusing medicines and alcohol.  Our Youth conference is a way to get this information out to kids of middle school and high school age…information that can help them make better decisions and different choices in their lives.”

The one day conference has a full day of activities planned. The kids arrive between 8 and 9 in the morning.  Jenny Ingram, St. Croix AODA counselor will talk about prescription and over the counter drug abuse. Brent Belisle and Doug Merrill, AODA Prevention Specialists will lead a discussion on the traditional  use of tobacco.  Talking circles will be held for girls and boys on traditions in today’s world.  Betty Jack, a Lac du Flambeau Tribal Elder and Sean Farlander, Milles Lac Ojibwe US Navy Golf War Veteran will focus on life skills stories. St. Croix Tribal Judge Gloria Merrill, one of the organizers of the conference added, “The youth conference helps to get the word out to the kids that drugs and alcohol are not the way to go.  This message has to be told to them often---there are other kids not doing drugs and alcohol.”

For 25 years, the St. Croix T.R.A.I.L.S. Youth Conference has provided an excellent opportunity for area Native American Youth to learn more about traditional values and to meet and talk with educations, counselors, spiritual advisors and students from neighboring tribes.  The Youth Conference is a unique educational experience designed to help Native American youth stay on the right path in their lives.

Pow wow

This year, The St. Croix T.R.A.I.L.S. Pow- Wow will be a two day event, with the help from local fund raising, WISCAPP and donations from US Bank in Siren and St. Croix Check cashing in Siren.  The St. Croix Tribe would like to cordially invite you and your family to attend the 25nd Annual St. Croix T.R.A.I.L.S. Pow-Wow on Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December  14. The Pow-Wow is held at the St. Croix Tribal Center Gymnasium in Hertel, Wisconsin beginning at 1 p.m. on both days. The Pow-Wow will continue until 10 p.m. on Saturday evening and until 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Pow-Wow is a family celebration. There will be no alcohol or drugs allowed on the premises.

“This is a traditional pow-wow that we hold every year in honor of our youth,” said Soulier.  “The crowning of the new T.R.A.I.L.S. princess and brave will take place at the pow-wow on Saturday.”

Traditional dancing and singing will envelop the day. Your children will enjoy watching the traditional St. Croix Tribal Descendants Royalty contest. Native American clothing, craft and custom Native American jewelry will be for sale. Authentic Native American foods will be available. 

A master of ceremonies will introduce a full regalia of women dancers in traditional buck skin, fancy shawl, jingle and ribbon dresses. Traditional male grass dancers will perform as well. The grass dance is based on a tradition of men knocking down tall grass to provide a place to gather.  Trick dancing and fast dancing will captivate the crowds. Little Otter and  Midnite Express are the host drums.

What a great way to spend a family day together and experience all the richness of Native American traditions so close to home. The St. Croix Tribal Center is located half way between Siren and Spooner on Highway 70 in Hertel, Wisconsin.  Elders and children under 5 will be admitted free.  Raffle tickets will be on sale during the pow-wow.  Top prizes include a 32” LCD TV, digital camcorder  and a Pendelton Blanket. For more information on the Youth Conference and Pow-Wow, please contact Mark Soulier, the St. Croix T.R.A.I.L.S. coordinator at 1-800-236-2195, ext.5310.