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'Rendezvous at the Forks': Event Saturday will celebrate native culture, raise funds for local group

A local group that serves and promotes native people and their culture is sponsoring a fundraising event Saturday night in Grand Forks that will feature a traditional meal and performances by native singers, dancers and flute players.

A local group that serves and promotes native people and their culture is sponsoring a fundraising event Saturday night in Grand Forks that will feature a traditional meal and performances by native singers, dancers and flute players.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. Saturday for "Rendezvous at the Forks," officially set to begin at 6 p.m. at Knights of Columbus, 601 University Ave., sponsored by the Northstar Council. People will be able to check out the silent auction and raffle and enjoy the entertainment before the meal is served at about 7 p.m.

The public is welcome and tickets -- available by calling (701) 330-1126 -- are $30 for adults 16 and older, $14 for ages six to 15, and free for children five and younger. The proceeds will support the programs of Northstar Council, whose missions is to strengthen and empower native American people through research, education and community development, said its executive director, Amber Finley.

The council's eventual goal is to establish a native American center for the Greater Grand Forks area, she said.

"We wanted to be able to, one, offer programs to our youth that were culturally significant and would help them become better leaders in the community, to be able to function well in the Grand Forks community and to help uplift them and help them be as successful as they can be," Finley said.

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Northstar Council, formed in February 2010, currently runs All Nations Culture Camp, a program for middle schools designed to bring together western science principles and native science thought, Finley said. The program is taught at Grand Forks Valley Middle School and soon will be in a couple of other area schools, she said.

Finley, who graduated in 2006 from UND with a degree in fisheries and wildlife biology, was active at UND in the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the Time Out/Wacipi. She has a master's degree in environmental management from University of San Francisco, and helped develop the curriculum for the All Nationals Culture Camp.

Northstar Council has an eight-member board of directors whose president is Twyla Baker-Demaray. The board decides the operations of the All Nations Culture Camp and determines how the organization's money is spent, Finley said. The council plans to launch a membership drive open to natives and non-natives.

The organization wants to serve the youth and adult native population by acting as a liaison between social services agencies in town and native American families. Northstar Council wants to offer cultural classes (in, for instance, native language and preparing traditional meals) and to help the community at large learn more about native culture and to be more sensitive to it, she said.

Northstar Council members want their event Saturday night to be a celebration of the history of the Red river Valley, a news release about the event said. Native performers will demonstrate and explain native dances, regalia and music.

The silent auction will feature traditional and contemporary art and jewelry and a one-of-a-kind star quilt made specially for this event will be raffled.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com .

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