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About Y-Indian Princess

POSTED: 09/02/05

All about the Y-Indian Princesses

The Y-Indian Princess program is different from scouting, sports teams, and many other activities because it is specifically intended to be a parent AND child organization. Our members join the program specifically because father and daughter want to spend more time together. This program provides a wealth of opportunities and settings you are unlikely to find otherwise.

From a parent's perspective this program gives you, as a father, the chance to bond with your child on many levels. The idea is to "form bonds that last a lifetime" -- so that when your children enter the turbulent middle school and high school years you have built a strong relationship and many positive memories. They have also learned how to have fun with their peers, in good ways. And, particularly important for the girls, they have developed a strong sense of accomplishment and self worth, and are able and willing to speak up for themselves.

From a daughter's perspective there is an opportunity to have a wide circle of friends, to get a sense of identity and belonging that is rare in today's world of small families. It is like having a dozen sisters and uncles to trust and rely on. The older girls take on leadership roles, helping and teaching the younger ones.

In addition to forming strong parent/child relationships, the program also provides opportunities:
  • To see things and do things you otherwise might not: camping , canoeing a scenic river, Horseback riding, sifting for fossil teeth of giant whale sharks.....

  • To meet other parents and children and make lasting friendships. To join in a large circle of friends you have much in common with and will enjoy sharing with (parents as much as kids)

  • To learn more about where you live -- to see the big and little places that make Florida special, from Lake Wales to Arcadia, Yumatilla, Fruitland Park, Fish Eating Creek, and many more.

    and finally;

  • To learn about Native American culture and the environment around us, up-close and personal, in ways that no book or film could ever match. After you have joined with your children in the spiral dance at the State Pow-Wow, or lain on your back on the dock of the Swamp Safari at midnight while the stars wheel overhead and the alligators glide below, you will have a personal appreciation for what that means.

Typical Activities

The program includes a variety father and daughter activities, Tribal activities, and Nation activities. The Seminole Nation follows a fairly regular schedule, and include some local, and some overnight activities:

  • The two key events of the year are the Spring and Fall Nation Camp-outs in April and October of each year. These are father and daughter only events packed with activities, held at full-featured camps with cabins, lakes, dining and activity areas. The Fall Camp-out includes horseback riding; the spring camp-out includes our version of the Pinewood derby.
  • The Sunshine State Pow-Wow is held in March of each year; entire families are invited to gather with Tribes from Guide and Princess programs across the state and join in war games, storytelling, dancing, and other contests.
  • In November, families are invited to join the annual camping, canoeing and fossil hunting expedition to Peace River.
  • In May, families are invited to John Pennicamp State Park in Key Largo to sail and snorkel and see the underwater world around us.
  • In December we have a Dad and Daughter Dance to end the year.
  • Other Nation activities have included the Davie Rodeo, the Museum of Science and Discovery, the Miami Metrozoo, Glass-Bottom boat excursions along the coast,overnight camping at Billie Swamp Safari on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, trips to Orlando, local Beaches and Sporting events.
Typical Tribal activities include:
  • House Meetings, which generally include a craft activity, and may also include planning for Tribal Events, Nation Events or community activities.
  • Out Meetings, such as trips to local or state parks, an expedition to the Everglades, a canoe trip on the Loxahatchee River, a trip to Jupiter Lighthouse and Blowing Rocks Preserve, overnight stays at Spanish River Park or The Miami Seaquarium, behind-the scenes tour at local fire and police stations or local businesses, participation in community service activities....


The success of the program hinges on the continued commitment of fathers to expend time and effort. Once again this is a parent AND child activity. It is an ongoing commitment to set aside time for Tribe and Nation events, as well as projects you and your daughter have together.

As with any group or program, the more more you put in to it as a participant, the more you get out of it. For those willing to make a bigger commitment, volunteer positions as a Tribal Chief or Medicine Man, a Nation Longhouse Chief, or Nation Officer can be very rewarding.

Goals and History of the Program

"An Y-Indian Princess is a girl with a Dad like mine"

The Y-Indian Princess program is designed for Dads and Daughters, growing together, spiritually and mentally. Sponsored by the YMCA, it is a spin-off of the Indian Guides program established in the 1920's for for Dads and Sons. The purpose of the Y-Indian Princesses Program is to foster the understanding and companionship of father and daughter.

The program is open to girls, Kindergarten through 6th grade (and then some), and their Dads. The YMCA is dedicated to providing good opportunities for people to achieve their greatest  and most satisfying potential as caring, responsible human beings. Y-Indian Guide Programs (Guides, Princesses, Maidens, and Braves) help fulfill this mission by:

  • Fostering companionship and understanding between parent and child, and setting a foundation for positive, lifelong relationships
  • Building a sense of self-esteem and personal worth.
  • Expand awareness of spirit, mind and body.
  • Provide the framework to meet a mutual need of spending enjoyable, constructive quality time together.
  • Emphasize the vital role that parents play in the growth and development of their children.
  • Offer an important and unique opportunity to develop and enjoy volunteer leadership skills.

The Pledge

   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.


  1. "Friends Always"
  2. "Pals Forever"
  3. "Forming Bonds to Last a Lifetime"
Aims of the Program
  1. To love the sacred circle of my family.
  2. To be clean in body and pure in heart.
  3. To share understanding with my father/daughter.
  4. To listen while others speak.
  5. To love my neighbor as myself.
  6. To seek and preserve the beauty of the Great Spirit's work in forest field and stream.

History of the Program

The Indian Guides program was established in 1926 as a way to ensure that hard-working fathers stayed involved in their sons lives.  The program was developed by Harold Keltner of the Saint Louis, Missouri YMCA, with the help of, and based on the example of his friend Joe Friday, an Ojibway Indian. According to Joe Friday, "The Indian father raises his son. He teaches his son to hunt, track, fish, walk softly and silently in the forest, know the meaning and purpose of life and all he must know."

Keltner designed the father and son program based upon the strong qualities of American Indian culture and life--dignity, patience, endurance, spirituality, feeling for the earth and concern for the family. The Indian Maidens, a sister organization for mothers and their daughters was established in South Bend, Indiana in 1951. The Y-Indian Princess organization for fathers and daughters got its start at the Fresno, California YMCA in 1954. Finally, in 1980, the US national YMCA recognized the need for an Indian Braves organization for Mothers and Sons.

Use of the Native American Theme

(a South Florida Editorial)

There is currently some controversy over the use of traditional Native American names and themes in the program. Below are some brief editorial thoughts on the subject. In addition, here is an article reprinted from the Los Angeles Times.

Participants in the Y-Indian Princess program are encouraged to find positive and respectful ways of using the Native American theme in their activities. While a tribe may participate in a variety of events over the course of a year, the Native American theme has been an instrumental part of the program for three-quarters of a century.

That's saying quite a bit considering the changes that occurred in American society over that time. In 1926 when the Y programs began, the world was a very different place. Yet the program, which is entirely a volunteer organization, has continued to win the interest and involvement of parent and child alike, regardless of the world of distractions that surround us, and has remained largely true to its original intent to the present day.

In addition to selecting tribal and individual names, program activities often include Native American crafts, artwork and storytelling. Our semi-annual Nation Camp-outs include contests for Native American costume. Parents and child (and friends and grandparents) are often involved in researching and creating traditional costumes. The most recent winner wore a Lakota costume whose detail would have rivaled more than one museum display I have seen.

Once a year we attend the Sunshine State Pow-Wow (held at different locations each year). Included in the activities are visiting native American storytellers and dance groups, along with various classes and workshops on crafts, tribal languages, and other topics. A father and daughter activity, in this case, becomes a four-day long family expedition to join literally thousands of others from Guide and Princess Nations across the state.

In South Florida we are fortunate to be close to two tribes, including our namesake Seminole Tribe and the Miccosukee Tribe. Both hold annual Pow-Wows within easy easy travel distance (in Hollywood and on the Tamiami trail, respectively) and both tribes have a variety of cultural events at their respective museums, most notably at the A-Tha-Thi-Ki museum on the Seminole reservation.

We also annually attend, as a tribes or as a nation, overnight events on the Big Cypress Reservation, including reenactments from the Seminole wars, rodeos, and late night story telling.

In our own tribe we were doubly fortunate to include among our members a daughter whose mother was a Choctaw, originally from Alabama. Her comments on the program and participation were valuable in increasing our exposure to, and appreciation of Native American cultures and sensibilities.

Most of us are all too aware of the ways in which entities ranging from Hollywood to Professional and Collegiate sports organizations have appropriated and abused Native American names, faiths, and culture. Most of these have clearly been self serving and disrespectful. I wouldn't dream of suggesting otherwise. On the other hand, it does not have to be that way.

My own children have slept many nights in Seminole chickees in the Everglades, eaten Seminole meals and danced in Seminole and Tale ka dances. They have watched fancy dancers and hoop dancers and jingle dancers, eaten chicken roast over a fire pit by starlight with Jimmy Sawgrass, listened to tellers of stories and folklore at A-Tha-Thi-Ki, and learned which words and actions are respectful and which are not.

I am grateful to have had the chance to expose my children to these things, and I wonder, if it had not been for this program, what their understanding of Native Americans might have been based on. A John Wayne movie perhaps? A casino advertisement?

We are not corporations or movie producers or baseball team owners. We are simply parents trying to raise their children. And as a parent, I am proud to say that the only cowboys my children have ever known, have been Indians.

The Y-Indian Princess Seminole Nation is affiliated with the
North Broward County, Florida YMCA

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