About Us

Background on Indian Princesses

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 this tribe, to our community, seek a world pleasing to the eye of the Great Spirit."


"Friends Always"

Six Aims
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.

Closing Prayer
And now
may the Great Spirit
of all good spirits
be with you
and forever more.

Indian Princess Headband
The central theme of the headband is the sign of the eye of the Great Spirit with the crossed arrows of friendship on the left side and the circled heart of love on the right side. The symbols for father and daughter are next to the grouped tepees, which indicate happy work in the community, and a single tepee, which denotes happy work in the home. The trees, water, and grass exhort the wearer to see and preserve the Great Spirit's beauty in forest, field and stream.

The YMCA Program was developed to support the parent's vital family role as teacher, counselor, and friend to their children. The program was initiated by Harold S. Keltner (St. Louis YMCA Director) in 1926 as an integral part of Association work. He organized the first Indian Guide tribe in Richmond Heights, Missouri, with the help of his good friend, Joe Friday, an Ojibway Indian, and William H. Hefelfinger, Chief of the first Y-Indian Guide tribe.

Inspired by his experiences with Joe Friday, who was his guide on fishing and hunting trips into Canada, Harold Keltner initiated a program of parent-child experiences that now involves over a million children and adults annually in the YMCA.

While Keltner was on a fishing trip in Canada, one evening, Joe Friday said to his white colleague as they relaxed around a campfire:

"The Indian FATHER raises his son. He teaches him to hunt, to track, to fish, to walk softly and silently in the forest, to know the meaning and purpose of life and all he must know..."

Joe Friday spoke before groups of YMCA boys and dads in St. Louis, and Mr. Keltner discovered that fathers, as well as boys, had a keen interest in the traditions of the American Indian. At the same time, being greatly influenced by the work of Ernest Thompson Seton, a great lover of the outdoors, Harold Keltner conceived the idea of a father-son program based upon the strong qualities of American Indian culture: life-dignity, patience, endurance, spirituality, feelings for the earth and concern for family. Thus, the Y-Indian Guide program was born over 75 years ago.

The rise of the YMCA following WWII, the genuine need for supporting little girls in their personal growth, and the success demonstrated by the father-son program helped to nurture the development of the Y-Indian princess program in the Fresno YMCA of California in 1954.

Join the Adventure Flyer!
Treat your kids and yourself to this wonderful family experience with the YMCA


Here's a little about more of the YMCA Programs:

Y Parent-Child

YMCA parent-child programs have a long history of providing children, ages 3 and up, and their parents with opportunities for good times, learning and mutual understanding. One such program is called Y-Indian Guides. It is based upon a respect for strong family and community ties in Native American traditions. Some Indian Guide programs have partnerships with local Native American tribes in order to ensure a true respect and understanding of their cultures. Other programs are called simply Y-Guides, Voyagers or Westerners. Regardless of their names, the programs bring together parents and children in small groups. The groups get together for meetings to participate in fun and educational outside activities.

A unique quality of the program is that there are activities for all combinations of parent and child:

  • Parent and preschool child;
  • Father and son;
  • Father and daughter;
  • Mother and son; and
  • Mother and daughter

Want to get involved in a parent-child program? Go to Find Your Y.

How do parent-child programs benefit you and your family?
YMCAs are dedicated to providing good opportunities for people to achieve their greatest and most satisfying potential as caring, responsible human beings. Y parent-child programs help fulfill this mission by providing the following benefits to parents and children:

  1. Foster companionship, understanding and a strong foundation for positive, lifelong relationships between parent and child;
  2. Build a sense of self-esteem and personal worth;
  3. Expand awareness of spirit, mind and body;
  4. Provide the framework for meeting a mutual need of spending enjoyable, constructive, quality time together;
  5. Enhance the quality of family time;
  6. Emphasize the vital role that parents play in the growth and development of their children; and
  7. Offer an important and unique opportunity to develop and enjoy volunteer leadership skills.

Get involved in a parent-child program at the YMCA website...