What Is It like to Volunteer on the Blackfeet Reservation?
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to volunteer on an Indian Reservation? A young team member reflects on service-learning as a volunteer on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.
Highlights from the team journal:
What we saw:
- A girl riding a horse bareback
- Glorious Glacier Park
- Lots of completed puzzles at Eagle Shield Housing
- An oddly few number of people out and about
- An unusual number of cows
- Fire-stricken forests/ mountain beetle stricken forests
What we did:
- Been appropriately directed on service projects and facts about the Blackfeet culture
- Taken lots of photos
- Driven in cars/napped in cars on the way back from our assignments
- Played an unbelievable amount of Spikeball in only 36 hours
What we learned:
- The sun doesn’t set here until after 11 PM.
- As a team, we have a lot to keep track of within ourselves in order to be effective—This is not impossible, but an important challenge for each of us to embrace.
- Service is a cooperative activity—we are here to lend a hand, not be the solution: Sustainability of support should always be considered as well.
- Joe, our Team Leader, taught us all about mountains, and he knows everything about everything.
What I learned:
- No boy eats only one sandwich for lunch.
- The wind in Montana is out of control.
- Moving cars will lull anyone to sleep.
More team excerpts:
Yesterday I learned just how special games are to the men, women, and children on the reservation. As we sat with the native people, and other visitors in the morning, a woman near tears spoke as to the emotional and cultural impact that the simple idea of playing traditional games caused. That moment was stunning.
“At first I was skeptical of my purpose as a Global Volunteer at east glacier lodge, but suddenly I felt at ease. There was a reason, and that reason meant more than I could have imagined.”
We, as an entire group, went to the library to meet Bob Tail Feathers, who spoke of the difficulties of reservation life as well as the opportunities in education and dancing. Most surprisingly though, was his sudden “thank yous” that blew me away.
“He finalized what I was starting to understand; that we mean something.”
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