Richie Conklin on YouTube: Thunder Park - Evergreen Skateparks - Blackfeet Nation
National | Sports

Chippewa Cree Tribe breaks ground on youth-driven skate park on reservation

A skate park is coming to the Rocky Boy's Reservation in Montana thanks to action from youth of the Chippewa Cree Tribe and some high-profile support.

Construction began on the park, located in Box Elder, on Monday, the tribe's planning and development department announced. The facility is expected to open within four to five weeks.

“It is exciting to see this project become a reality,” said Javon Wing, a grant writer for the department. “It is very important that we focus on building a community that supports our youth and encourages healthy decisions. Providing options like the skate park will help put future generations on the right path by encouraging them to be outside and active.”

Though the idea has been in the works for years, planning picked up over a year ago, when Wing reached out to Evergreen Skateparks, a skate park design firm, and a foundation started by Jeff Arment, the bassist for the popular American rock band Pearl Jam. Arment hails from Big Sandy, a small town not far from Rocky Boy's, and he has helped build skate parks in rural communities and on reservations in Montana and South Dakota.

"Growing up in a small town, two things helped form my young identity: music and skateboarding," Arment says on the Pearl Jam website.

Young people were indeed the driving force behind the new project. They asked the tribal council to consider building a skate park, and they helped galvanize support for it within their community.

“Planning & Development is excited to work on new youth driven projects,” said White. “It’s a chance to bring opportunities for youth to the reservation and provide an outlet for them to express themselves in new and healthy ways. The community has a high youth population and a need for more activities that encourage individual expression, making it important to have a variety of positive outlets.”

Evergeen has worked on several skate parks on or near reservations. They include Thunder Park on the Blackfeet Nation in Montana and one for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.

Arment's foundation has been involved in some of the same projects as Evergeen. He's also helped develop two skate parks for youth from the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

“On behalf of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, I’d like to say thank you to Evergreen Skateparks and the Jeff Ament Foundation for this amazing opportunity,” said White.