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Sex education in Lame Deer, Montana

February 16, 2016

George Elkshoulder and I got the job of teaching a sexual awareness class to the 5th and 6th grade boys at Lame Deer School.  There were several adult men with the same name.  The George Elkshoulder I knew best was a Northern Cheyenne Tribal Community Health Representative.  Or “CHR.”

Of course, you remember 1989, don’t you?  Everett C. Koop was still the Surgeon General who promoted educating children and condom use to help counter the spreading AIDS epidemic in the United States.

That year Lame Deer had an HIV positive patient, a boy in the sixth grade.   I had worked at Planned Parenthood for Joan McCracken prior to becoming commissioned in the Public Health Service as a Lieutenant.  I helped conduct sex education classes for boys then.

I learned how wonderfully respectful the children of Lame Deer were of their elders, their teachers, their George Elk Shoulders.  [In the IHS (Indian Health Service) we commonly combined the two word last names, like “Elkshoulder,” even though they might also be written “Elk Shoulder.”]

My recollection is sketchy.  I just remember that George and I taught the boys and someone else collected the girls and took them elsewhere.  George and I introduced ourselves to the class of boys.  We had a curriculum, so we followed it.  There were diagrams and pictures.

George seemed genuinely embarrassed at the diagram showing the anatomical parts of a male human body.  He had a charming grin.  The boys were boisterous.  George pointed to the area of the scrotum with testicles.  “What is this?” he asked them.

“Piss bag!” came the immediate cry from the class.  You could tell that the boys had gutted out a deer or two, so they knew what a piss bag (bladder) was on a deer.

George was nonplussed.  “Scrotum,” he said.  A few boys echoed, “Scrotum.”

The rest of the class time was equally as pleasant and informative.  Both for the children and for us grinning adults.  I don’t remember much else about it, but from that day afterward, whenever George and I saw each other, we invariably recalled the day we gave a sex education class in Lame Deer.  With a good deal of pride, at that.Photo on 2013-05-17 at 16.40

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