STORY OF INDIAN PRINCESS PROGRAMS
In the Beginning..."The Indian father raises his son. He teaches his son to hunt, to track, to fish, to walk softly and silently in the forest, to know the meaning and purpose of life and all that he must know, while the white man allows the mother to raise his son." These chance remarks made in the early 1920s by Ojibway Indian hunting guide Joe Friday to Harold Keltner, a St. Louis YMCA director, struck a responsive chord.
Closing the Gap
In 1925 Keltner arranged for Friday to speak before boys and dads in the St. Louis area. One evening after a talk given at a father and son banquet, Friday was so closely surrounded by fathers that the boys could not get near him. This gave Keltner an idea. Perhaps this strong mutual interest in the Indian could be put at the heart of a program aimed at closing the gap that he had seen widening between American fathers and their sons.
American Indian Culture and Life
Keltner designed a father-son program based on the qualities of American Indian culture and life: Dignity, Patience, Endurance, Spirituality, Feeling for the earth, and Concern for the family. From this, Y-Indian Guide programs were born.
Rapid Growth After WWII
In 1926, Keltner organized the first tribe of Y-Indian Guides in Richmond Heights, MO., with the help of Friday and William Hefelfinger, chief of that first tribe. Although it grew slowly at first, the program was eventually recognized as a national YMCA program in 1935. The popularity of Y-Indian Guides grew rapidly in the post-World War II period of 1942 to 1962, guided by John Ledie, national advisor. Many new programs and organizational developments at the local and national levels also evolved during this time.
The Y-Indian Princess program is born
The rise of the family YMCA following World War II, the genuine need for supporting little girls in their personal growth, and the demonstrated success of the father-son program in turn nurtured the development of parent-daughter groups. The mother-daughter program, now called Indian Maidens, was established in South Bend, IN, in 1951. Three years later father-daughter groups, which were called Y-Indian Princesses, originated in the Fresno, CA, YMCA. Y-Indian Braves, a program for mothers and sons, emerged during the late 1970s and was officially recognized by the National Executive Committee of the National Longhouse at Dearborn, MI, in 1980.Since 1963, the swift expansion of the program has continued with all these programs, and with a corresponding group of programs for older children.
Big Waters Federation is formed
In 1987, the group separated from the local YMCA and created the Big Waters Federation as a 501(c)(3) corporation. It continues the mission of providing parents and children an opportunity to bond during one-on-one activities and create memories to last a lifetime.