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About Prairie Nation


In the Beginning...
The Indian father raises his son. He teaches his son to hunt, to track, to fish, to walk softly and silently in the forest, to know the meaning and purpose of life and all that he must know, while the white man allows the mother to raise his son."  These chance remarks made in the early 1920s by Ojibway Indian hunting guide Joe Friday to Harold Keltner, a St. Louis YMCA director, struck a responsive chord. 

Closing the Gap
In 1925 Keltner arranged for Friday to speak before boys and dads in the St. Louis area.  One evening after a talk given at a father and son banquet, Friday was so closely surrounded by fathers that the boys could not get near him.  This gave Keltner an idea.  Perhaps this strong mutual interest in the Indian could be put at the heart of a program aimed at closing the gap that he had seen widening between American fathers and their sons. 

American Indian Culture and Life
Keltner designed a father-son program based on the qualities of American Indian culture and life:  Dignity, Patience, Endurance, Spirituality, Feeling for the earth, and Concern for the family.   From this, Y-Indian Guide programs were born.

Rapid Growth After WWII
In 1926, Keltner organized the first tribe of Y-Indian Guides in Richmond Heights, MO., with the help of Friday and William Hefelfinger, chief of that first tribe.  Although it grew slowly at first, the program was eventually recognized as a national YMCA program in 1935.  The popularity of Y-Indian Guides grew rapidly in the post-World War II period of 1942 to 1962, guided by John Ledie, national advisor.  Many new programs and organizational developments at the local and national levels also evolved during this time. 

The Y-Indian Princess program is born
The rise of the family YMCA following World War II, the genuine need for supporting little girls in their personal growth, and the demonstrated success of the father-son program in turn nurtured the development of parent-daughter groups.  The mother-daughter program, now called Indian Maidens, was established in South Bend, IN, in 1951.  Three years later father-daughter groups, which were called Y-Indian Princesses, originated in the Fresno, CA, YMCA.  Y-Indian Braves, a program for mothers and sons, emerged during the late 1970s and was officially recognized by the National Executive Committee of the National Longhouse at Dearborn, MI, in 1980.Since 1963, the swift expansion of the program has continued with all these programs, and with a corresponding group of programs for older children.  At some point, about 900 YMCAs sponsored 30,000 Y-Indian Guide groups.

2003: A New Beginning
In 2002 and 2003, things changed for the Algonquin Federation and our Prairie Nation. While the local Nations and Tribes (and kids!) were having a good time and learning, the central Y management had plans to dramatically change the program. Meetings and surveys ensued to figure out the future of the program.  By the end of the 2002 program year (June 2003), the members of the Algonquin Federation voted to separate from the Y.  Grand plans were made and the Algonquin Longhouse, Inc. was formed.  

The Prairie Nation is proud to be part of the Algonquin Longhouse to further teach our children the qualities of Indian culture that Harold Keltner envisioned over 80 years ago.


The purpose of the Father and Daughter Y-Indian Princess Program is to foster the understanding and companionship of father and daughter.


"We, Father and Daughter, through friendly service to each other, to our family, to our tribe, to our community, seek a world pleasing to the eye of the Great Spirit."


"Friends Always."


  • To love the sacred circle of my family.
  • To be clean in body and pure in heart.
  • To share understanding with my father/daughter.
  • To listen while others speak.
  • To love my neighbor as myself.
  • To seek and preserve the beauty of the Great Spirit's work in forest, field, and stream. 

The Twelve Moons and Symbols

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Symbolism of the Indian Princess Headband

The Indian Princess Headband design displays significant symbols of Indian Princess principles and purpose. The central theme of the headband is the symbol of the eye of the Great Spirit.  

The crossed arrows to the left of the central symbol symbolizes friendship.  The circled heart to the right of the central symbol, is the symbol for love.  The fathers and daughters are symbolized next to the symbols for love and friendship which is interpreted to mean that fathers and daughters, under the eye of the Great Spirit, are seeking loving and friendly service to each other.  

To the left are three teepees which is the symbol for community.  The line that joins this symbol with the symbol for father and daughter, indicates the happy work of father and daughter in the community.  To the right is a single teepee, symbolizing home.  Again, a line joins this symbol with the symbol for father and daughter, indicating happy work at home.  

To the far right and left are symbols for day, night, forest, mountain, field, lake and stream  

These symbols tend to enrich the central theme, giving a broader scope to the work of the father and daughter by centering their efforts in village and community life, and, as the ritual says, "In forest, field, and stream."

The meaning of the headband has been interpreted in the words of the Indian Princess Pledge: "We, Father and Daughter, through friendly service to each other, to our family, to this tribe, to our community, seek a world pleasing to the eye of the Great Spirit."

Learn more about Hay-Lush-Ka.