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Oh, Christmas Tree!

Youth from the Boys & Girls Club of Leech Lake took a long ride to Washington, D.C. this December to present the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, or “The People’s Tree,” to the nation’s capital. An 88 foot tall tree from the Chippewa National forest was chosen this year to adorn the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The Boys & Girls Club of Leech Lake chose five Club members to send on the trip, which was sponsored by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Chippewa National Forest. Imagine: Ojibwe youth from communities on and off the Leech Lake Reservation in Northern Minnesota traveling 1,000 miles together in a coach bus. Want to learn more about the tree, and about their trip? The tree even has its own Web site where you can follow its path from Minnesota to Washington, D.C.

Youth from the Youth attended the tree lighting ceremony, which featured remarks by three members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation and House Speaker John Boehner. You can watch this video from C-SPAN of the tree lighting ceremony. The following day youth toured the U.S. Capitol building. The trip culminated with a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), where youth and Elders from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe performed dances in their traditional regalia. You can view a short video of the dance taking place in NMAI’s Potomac Atrium if you look up NMAI on Instagram. NMAI’s handle is @smithsoniannmai (or visit http://instagram.com/smithsoniannmai/).

This trip was spectacular for the Club members in so many ways, but perhaps the opportunity to share some of Leech Lake’s culture was the most special part.