Inspiring Experiences

By: Nun Sokunthea Indigenous Kroeng from Cambodia

Time is passing very fast. It is 25 days already since we have arrived in Montana, United State of America and it is 14 days already since the tribal cohort have been placed with American host family to enjoy the program here at FLATHEAD reservation.

There are a lot of thing to learn here from the tribal reservation. Germaine is a tribal cohort lead has provided us with a very good program which allowed us to see, learn and feel many things about the work that tribal government is doing here. We were at the River Honoring Site to feel the river honoring and to see an outdoor environmental education event for the youth. We learn about tribal complex and their departments. We were visited fisheries management of the FLATHEAD Lake at blue bay fisheries building to learn about how fisheries biologist manages the fish and the submarine resources. In the same time, we also learn about the Salish Kootenai collage on their program, how the collage been setting up and how it been managed. Together with all the fellows, we have spent time together at yellow stone for our weekend experience. It was really nice to feel the snow, to see the wild animals, to see geyser at old faithful and learn about the first national park in the world. The tribal cohort also have been to the Kicking Horse Job Corps Center to experience on the vocational skill training provide to the students and their responsibility for the students to find a good job and the management of the center as well. Ker Dam which is newly owned by the tribal government have provide millions dollar to the tribal government to run the entire FLATHEAD NATION program and this is a good lesson for us. We have learned that having a long term plan with clear goal is really effective. National Glacier Park is the last place we have visited during our program here. We have learn that the park have been managed very well under the coordination and cooperation with two country the United State of America and Canada. Laura Law an education Specialist has giving us a presentation about the environmental education and ongoing program at her office at the park. A skill of promoting the park through the media is also shown by a park media specialist. During this period, I was very surprised and excited to have my Birthday celebration arranged by my host family together with their friends, relative and the tribal cohorts and their host family as well. I am very happy and thankfulness for all of them for a kindness and happy birthday party.

Like the other fellows, action plan is required by Mansfield Center and I have to make my action plan done before the deadline. Today with tribal cohort, we meet and support each other in working on the action plan. It seem very complicated at the start but through our discussion and the supported from Marie and Billie Lee the host family of the two other cohort, we are able to finished it smoothly. The work plan is very encouragement and it really inspired me. I can’t wait to implement my action plan. While writing it I can already see the vision of my action plan and the future of my indigenous people group in my beloved country. My friend and I have expressed that “Even if we do not get any funding support from Mansfield Center, we will still working on our action plan and stick on our goal to achieve it”.

All the session been provided for an entire program at the tribal reservation are really good. I am really desirable to learn about the tribal governance, management and structure. Among all of those good experience, I am also excited to learn about the Ker Dam that is newly own by the tribal government. It is just not happen by chance but it is happen by choice. It been 85 years before the tribal government can own the dam and it is 160 year after the tribal reservation have signed the treaty with the federal government for an independent own and manage the property and resources on the own territory. This is needed to have clear, strong and good plan to have that dream come true. This experience is really mean to me that we need to have a dream, vision and mission then we work for it. Education for the people is the most powerful tool to get the dream comes true and we try for the success. “Dive until you reach the sand and clime until you reach the top. Keep persevering.” a say by President Barack Obama.


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