20 years on Blackfeet Reservation

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of Global Volunteers’ service to children, elders and families on the Blackfeet Reservation of Montana.  We’re very proud of our long-standing relationship with the Blackfeet people, and look forward to 20 more years and more!  Initiated by Global Volunteers Co-Founder Michele Gran and Blackfeet elder Dorothy Still Smoking in 1999, the Blackfeet Reservation Program is a collaboration for mutual understand and respect between cultures.


volunteers on the Blackfeet Reservation

Volunteers serve meals to local residents at community-wide annual Flood Memorial Ceremony.

In Browning, Heart Butte, Starr School, Babb, East Glacier and points in between, Global Volunteers has worked hand-in-hand with elders, children, students, teachers, veterans, mothers and families to help improve the standard of living on the Blackfeet Reservation.  Whether painting fences, distributing clothes, erecting tipis, serving meals, reading stories, planting vegetables, visiting elders, sorting books, comforting toddlers, mentoring students, harvesting herbs, mowing lawns, painting murals and helping in other so many other ways, volunteers from across the U.S. and around the world make a long-lasting difference through service.  Taking in the rugged and wild beauty of the northern plains and Rocky Mountains, and absorbing the deeply spiritual culture of local people, one can’t help but marvel at the perspective afforded by this unique service opportunity.

beauty of Blackfeet Reservation

Expansive vistas of mountains, valleys and plains comprise the Blackfeet Reservation of Montana.


Establishing and maintaining working partnerships on “The Rez.” 

We celebrate the success of sustaining a productive and trusting working partnership with Blackfeet partners. Life on a Native American community can be puzzling for non-Indians, and volunteers must work to suspend judgement about the complexities born of historical trauma and oppression. Deference to elders, tribal identity, and a greater fluidity between work and non-work activities than what is found in mainstream non-Indian society seems to contribute to this. Daily work assignments helps build commonality between volunteers and local people, providing you a privileged, unvarnished glimpse into the struggles and celebrations of those with whom you work. Our mantra, “Things are often not as they first appear” is especially valuable on the reservation. One of the greatest benefits of serving as a volunteer under the direction of local leaders is access to events and places the casual visitor would never witness.  This includes participating in traditional “sweats,” witnessing a Sun Dance, helping prepare a ceremonial pow-wow, attending memorial feeds and funerals, sharing traditional meals, being invited into homes, observing a tribal council meeting and much more.

working on the reservation

Native and volunteer youth work together on signs for the Early Childhood Center.

 

Welcoming volunteers from all walks of life.

In 2019, we welcome teams 157 through 167.  To date, more than 2,500 volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and from across the world have shared their skills at Blackfeet Early Childhood Learning Center, Blackfeet Community College, Eagle Shield Assisted Living, the Blackfeet Care Center, Manpower Services, White Buffalo Juvenile Detention Center, the Carole White Summer Program, the Southern Piegan Diabetes Project, the Browning Fire Department, Blackfeet Boys and Girls Club, Crystal Creek Treatment Program, Cuts Wood School, the Community Development Program, Blackfeet De la Salle School as well as Tribal offices throughout the community.  To date, our oldest volunteer has been 92, and our youngest have been 7. Students, families, couples and groups of all compositions have opened their hearts to the adventure of volunteering on the Blackfeet Reservation.

You’ll find the Blackfeet Reservation a welcoming, spiritually rich community of resourceful, soulful people.  Service programs are scheduled for nearly every week from June through August. Contact a volunteer coordinator at 800-487-1074 for contact information of Montana Alumni, who are eager to share their experiences with you.

Working with Blackfeet people

Volunteers help local people erect a tipi before dinner at the annual Indian Days pow-wow in Browning, Montana.

Read more about serving on the Blackfeet Reservation of Montana:

A Journey I’ll Never Forget

No Better Way to Know a Community

Sunday in the Sweat Lodge

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