Cultural Experiences on a Blackfeet Volunteer Vacation

The day began as usual – early birds up and at ‘em paving the way for the rest of us not-so-early-birds by making coffee and setting out breakfast foods.  We each pack a lunch, and as the hour of 8am drew nearer, our community meeting would take place…in Indian time.  Only in our group –  it’s not the Indians that are tardy…( ;

Unlike yesterday, we have all had assignments, and a chance to get our feet wet a bit with a volunteer project.  So this morning we all gather to refine those assignments a bit more – some projects need more assistance, and others perhaps not the right timing due to weather or other circumstances.  This all makes perfect sense as we are the first Global Volunteer group to be at the Blackfeet Reservation this year.  So we adjust, and flex and figure things out as we go – and it all works.
Some of us are working on projects that will take place later on in the week as we also do volunteer assignments during the day.  Those of us who are not able to do a volunteer assignment, due to weather, are quickly grabbed up by others as we round out our needs with various assignments.
Today, the bookstore is open following inventory on Monday, and many of us have looked at the wonderful selection of children’s books that describe Blackfeet culture, as well as a robust selection of Blackfeet culture and history.  A selection of Bob Tailfeather’s earrings is also available at the bookstore and his quill art is tough to resist!
Today is not a day to stain fences, nor cut grass as it is windy, a bit cold and drizzly.  That does not matter – we simply adjust and share our skills in different ways and in different places.
I am fortunate to be with a group that will work with Girl Scouts at the middle school today, to cultivate interest in science and a bit of math through a “CSI” exercise.  It is great fun to be with such energized young people and to be able to contribute a bit to their summer enrichment.

Others are interacting in the community and having substantive conversations designed to gather information, learn and then develop ways to launch additional projects to contribute in meaningful ways.  These conversations are critically important as they inform future volunteer projects designed by those we are privileged to serve.

Some of our team participated in a sweat lodge ceremony and had an incredibly rich and unforgettable experience with our Blackfeet hosts.  There are no words to adequately describe the depth and impact of their spiritual  experience.
People are working at Eagle Shield with residents, in food service, helping to assist administration, visiting with elders at the Blackfeet Care Center, and in a multitude of other ways.  Clearly the culture of Global Volunteers resonates as we are able to support each other and give to others.  What a wonderful gift  – to be able to give in our unique ways to our Blackfeet sisters and brothers.
Respectfully Submitted – Alison Brown
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