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Five Minutes with.....Ronnie Cook

Jun 07, 2017 10:27AM ● Published by Ashley Pape

If you ask many local fathers of young daughters, they will tell you they’re part of a tribe— and more specifically, a tribe in the Indian Princess program. Southlake resident Ronnie Cook, of the Cheyenne tribe, is one such dad. He’s been part of the father/daughter organization for four years with his daughters, Alexis (10), and Geneva (8). As the incoming assistant chief for the 18-tribe-strong Yo-He-Wah Nation (the DFW/North Tarrant County chapter of the national program), he’s moving up the totem pole, too. Cook encourages dads to check out this unique program that forges a lasting bond between fathers and daughters.

I JOINED THE INDIAN PRINCESS PROGRAM BECAUSE: I wanted to go fishing and camping like I did with my dad growing up. Having two girls, there weren’t many organizations that filled that niche. There are many dad/son and mom/daughter opportunities, but the bonding experience between dads and daughters is extremely important.

THROUGH THE PROGRAM, DADS AND DAUGHTERS GET TO: do a little bit
of everything. We build rockets, go to hockey games and go camping, among many other activities. There’s an event on the calendar once a month where we devote 100 percent of our attention to our girls. It’s important because many times, as dads, we get busy and it’s hard to slow down.

CAMPOUTS ARE ESPECIALLY UNIQUE BECAUSE: we have so many families that we take up an entire state park. It’s great. When I was a kid, I’d get on my bike and explore in the woods. It’s hard to let kids explore today, but camping provides a safer environment so kids can get out in nature. We have four daddy/ daughter campouts and one family campout each year.

ONE OF MY FAVORITE EVENTS IS: the annual Sweetheart Dance in February. It’s a formal event so everyone dresses up. We get to show the girls how we would want boys to treat them. We get to instill in them what a proper date is and show them a really nice time.

INDIAN PRINCESS TRIBES ARE BASED ON: region and friendships. Most people join through word of mouth—their daughters’ friends. In the Cheyenne tribe, most families are from Southlake, so the girls see each other and play nonstop. If dads/daughters don’t know anybody when they register, they can be matched in a tribe from their elementary school.

AN ADDED BENEFIT OF PARTICIPATING: is developing friendships with other dads. You see the same group of people every month, so it’s a great way to form new friendships. When we go camping, there are no cell phones. We’re outside, cooking s’mores, playing games, riding bikes—we all really look forward to it.

THROUGH INDIAN PRINCESS, I GET TO: seize the opportunity to spend time with my girls. When they grow up to be women, they will be able to do mother/son or mother/daughter activities, but nothing like this.

BEHIND THE SCENES, THE INDIAN PRINCESS PROGRAM: operates like a well-oiled machine. Everything is volunteer-based. We have dads who are lawyers, accountants—you name it. These guys believe so much in the program that they invest a lot of time to make the events happen. If everybody does a little piece, nobody has to do a ton.

MY INDIAN NAME: was chosen by my kids. They picked Stinky Catfish. Alexis’ name is Singing Bluebird and Geneva’s name is Little Kitten. Everybody gets a patch to put on their vest after each event, and my vest has a catfish on it. It’s fun. The vest is a neat keepsake because they can look at it and see all the events they attended with their dad.

THE BEST PART OF IT ALL: is spending time with my daughters and building lasting memories. There is such a short window of time when girls want to be really involved with their dads. Just being able to hang out with them—those memories are irreplaceable. Indian Princess gives dads an environment and opportunity to show our daughters how much we love them. 

In Print, Life+Leisure, Today, City+School Indian Princess
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