June 2014 – First Week on the Rez

volunteering in Browning, Montana

The team assembles at Eagle Shield Center.

Today was our first full day on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.  After a much needed good night’s sleep, we helped ourselves to just about anything anyone could ever want for breakfast from our well-stocked kitchen.

We then proceeded to Eagle Shield Center for our morning orientation, presented by our leaders Hu Di and Drew. First on the agenda was a discussion of the philosophies of the service for Global Volunteers.

  • We do whatever we are asked to do
  • We go where we are needed
  • We always take direction from the local people

Policies and guidelines were explained, followed by an exercise to arrive at team goals:   learning about Blackfeet community, to positively impact and inspire children, to strengthen individual developments, to build relationships, to labor and act, and to achieve personal growth.

After a brief break, we were asked to list separately on 3 individual index cards, 3 areas we would like to participate in while we are here. These were then placed on a board and arranged according to our priorities. From this list, we will each receive our assignments.

It was very energizing morning during which we developed a list of characteristics for successful group interaction including: being a good listener, being flexible, cooperating, having a positive attitude, being patient, accepting differences, and having fun.  After sharing all this information, we are certain to be the best team that the Blackfeet Community has ever worked with!  With great respect and admiration for our team leaders, we look forward to a successful week.

Drew presented our new projects including AmeriCorps Vistas, youth employment, etc.  He said that the Native Americans were most impressed that the volunteers paid to be here.  He then described the following opportunities:  Labor, elder-care, playground, college library, community development, Blackfeet community college, care center, child services, basketball camp, and high school summer program.


We stopped at Duck Lake to admire Chief Mountain.

I’m sure we all agree that Sunday afternoon was the most spectacular experience when we toured the reservation along Glacier National Park.  I think it started with the wildlife with the first sighting of the cattle spaced out in vast areas.  The horses appeared with new colts and then I was surprised to see buffalo.  The drive was awesome watching us getting us nearer to the Rocky Mountains.  We stopped at an over-look to take a team picture.  We all made it through the barbed wire with help from the volunteers.

We continued on to St. Mary Lodge to see a stuffed grizzly, gifts and coffee.  As we drove, we saw a lot of cars parked on the side of the road and realized that there was a black bear feeding fairly close to the road.  The highlight was reaching the waterfalls at Many Glacier Hotel.  This hotel was actually lifted up to restore a new foundation.  Just as we were leaving the camping area, we saw a beautiful deer.  The views on drive were breathtakingly beautiful.   We are grateful that we had two vans and the time to explore this wonderful landscape and we appreciate the efforts of our team leaders.

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