Frankel Jewish Academy freshman Emmanuela Arkashevsky writes about their school trip to Montana.
As a Jewish teen going on the Frankel Jewish Academy Montana trip, I was able to learn so much about the Cheyenne culture. I learned about the battles they fought for their land and mass genocides of their people, but the Cheyenne people are still holding on to each other as a powerful culture.
When we arrived, we camped out in a football field of a Northern Cheyenne High School in Lame Deer for four nights. For our time in Lame Deer, our grade was able to go through many once-in-a-lifetime experiences, one of which was a sweat lodge. A sweat lodge is a type of hut heated up with extremely hot rocks and boiling water, which release steam. The Northern Cheyenne people use this as a ceremony but welcomed us into the sweat lodge as a learning experience.
We were also able to see the Deer Medicine Rocks. These rocks are very sacred to the Northern Cheyenne, and it was an honor to be invited to a place like this. After walking 2 miles to the rocks, we were able to see how amazing this opportunity was. The Deer Medicine Rocks had a series of carvings on them that represented different things, for example, a lizard is said to be a young girl and a turtle to be a young boy. There were more carvings that in the Cheyenne culture are believed to be predictions of upcoming wars and, because of these wars, many ceremonies started happening like Sun Dances.
As Jewish people, I noticed that we also do certain things to remember what we lost in wars and genocides of our people and that we also have places that are sacred to us, like Jerusalem.
After staying in Lame Deer and learning about the Northern Cheyenne culture, we spent one night camping in Yellowstone, where we saw the most beautiful scenery. We were able to see tall mountains, warm-colored hot springs and geysers. One of my absolute favorite things that I saw in Yellowstone was the famous Old Faithful eruption. I have always heard about Old Faithful, but after seeing it erupt, I can talk about my experience, too.
Sightseeing in Yellowstone was definitely a highlight of the Freshmen Montana trip, but what was even better is that I spent all that time with my friends, which means a lot to me. I can now see my friends at school and talk about all the exciting things we saw together. If I hadn’t shared my experience with them, then I don’t know how the trip would have turned out.
By the time Yellowstone was over, we were able to spend Shabbat on a ranch, where we all spent our last days in Montana together, remembering all the good times we had.
Learning about the Cheyenne people and seeing all the gorgeous scenery of Montana left so much in our heads. It was a really great way to end the trip at HardScrabble Ranch because it gave us two days to relax and chill together after an impactful and inspirational trip.
Emmanuela Arkashevsky is a freshman at Frankel Jewish Academy.