“In Crow culture, the center pole gives strength, guidance and it’s where you go for help. It connects you to heaven, to a bada di a, the Creator.” Peggy White Wellknown Buffalo, Founder and Executive Director
The Center Pole operates on the Seven Indigenous Principles of Life:
1) Carry the welfare of the people in your heart
2) Have pity and compassion for all living things
3) Have respect and honor for everything that lives
4) Develop and nurture a great mind
5) Be humble at all times
6) Be guided by your own principles and discipline yourself
7) Live with the wisdom and understanding of these great laws
The Center Pole is a Native non-profit organization founded in 1999. The campus is located at the foot of the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. Originally a youth development organization, we have expanded our work to include projects for a stronger Crow community. The expansion includes an alternative energy demonstration project, work in the area of food sovereignty, a digital archives, an indigenous media and education center and a radio station to give the Crow people a voice.
We teach and model entrepreneurship through their social enterprises: cafe, gift shop, resale shop and tipi stays. These enterprises offer area employment and serve to create sustainability for our programs.
Peggy White Wellknown Buffalo
Founder, Executive Director
"Ba La Se She Lesh " (She Who Wears the Money) grew up traditional Crow. Sent away to Indian boarding schools at a young age, she has nurtured more than 200 children in her home as an adult. She practices the Crow sweat lodge and has sponsored numerous Native American Church prayer meetings. She is the first woman in recent times to sponsor four sun dances to pray for her critically-ill grand daughter.
"Sha Eh Gush"
"Sha Eh Gush" (Wellknown Buffalo), Peggy's great grandmother for whom she is named, was a traditional Crow Indian woman, a mother to many, an herbalist and a healer. The Center Pole is on her land: Allotment 916 East Wellknown Buffalo, assigned to her by the United States Government in the 1800’s. Wellknown Buffalo built her own home board by board and lived on wild game and from her garden. Her powerful medicine was sacred and she was well respected in the community.
Founder of the Kelly Foundation
"Dek Gash Bish" (Woman Eagle) helped Peggy create the Center Pole in 1999, bringing practical skills to blend with traditional ways. Originally a photo editor, researcher, writer and project manager in the publishing industry, she brought up multicultural children and worked providing promising youth with opportunities for many years. Her motto: Start where you are...Use what you have...Do what you can--Arthur Ashe
The Crow Indian Reservation
The Crow Indian Reservation is 2.3 million acres in southeastern Montana and home to 13,000 Crow, or Apsaalooke, many of whom still speak their language and practice ancient traditions.