July 3rd- Fun times

by Susan

It was rainy and cold (50 degrees) as we started our day with cereal, coffee, and Ben’s journal entry and James’ thought. A rainbow and glimpses of sunshine accompanied us to Chewing Blackbones Campground, as well as Phoebe’s excitement about Oreo cows.  The campground, almost empty when we arrived probably would have disappointed Chewing Blackbones himself (an elder who died in 1963 at the age of 104).

We hung out at the playground and in the van until others arrived. Then a spirited soccer game involved most of us and Browning kids and adults. James was even seen kicking the ball in from the sidelines and Carter and Ben did some good goalie work.

Ellie met up with 3 girls from the Boys and Girls Club and they picked wildflowers.

After our picnic lunch planned by Ann, Carter and Ellie, we met 8th grade teacher and Reservation guide Jim. He passed on Blackfeet history and the practical skills learned through traditional games such as Spear and Hoop and Scare the Buffalo, some of our group from the shorter to the taller did well yelling and running across the field on only one breath. They also played Double Ball and Shinny, during this game Ann scored a goal. The games used natural materials and most were carved and then painted, red paint means “holy” and black means “war”. Feathers added decoration and meaning.

We waited while the wind picked up and sprinkles began again for the teepee building, featuring 21 carefully measured, cut, and prepared poles from the lodge-pole pine tree.  It took a lot of muscles- just ask Tyler and Chad – to get the poles up  correctly after the first 4 were tied together precisely. The canvas enclosed the teepee and so we were done. We headed back to Browning with an assortment of Blackfeet traditions.

The day, which began with a group of tired volunteers and cranky weather following us to an underused park, picked up and was a lot of fun. Can’t say I worked very hard but I really enjoyed talking with community people and being in the Montana beauty all day.

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