Working at Eagle Shield Among New Friends – Montana

Our day began with a breakfast gathering to confirm everyone’s activities for the day. My work day began at Eagle Shield Center, an assisted living and senior lunch facility. Indians, and those married to Indians, are eligible for reduced-fee lunch through this program. “Queens of the kitchen” Sissy and Marie demonstrated how to fill styrofoam boxes with food to deliver. Today’s menu was spaghetti with meat sauce, peas, canned diced peaches and garlic bread. These box lunches are delivered along with a small container of milk to elderly and disabled residents who are unable to get to Eagle Shield for lunch… just like “Meals on Wheels.”

Today I broke with my usual job of serving lunch to people who begin to arrive around 11:30 or so to accompany Sean on his meal deliveries. By the time I was in the van and buckled up…I was out again to another home. Repeat about 70 times! Sean’s lived on the Rez most of his life, and loves his job. I can see why. Most everyone I came in contact with were warm and friendly. I missed 103-year-old “Granny Williams,” however, because she was asleep when I arrived.

Most of the shut-ins are cared for by relatives, some by aides. I was particularly impressed with Jim Mad Dog. He actually has another last name, but learned this only during his 60’s. His artwork and beadwork were proudly shown in his home.

Some of the residents we visited live in tiny spaces surrounded by squalor. Others had tidy and roomy interiors and neat yards. I loved the unusual names I learned…”Bear Paw”, “Shoots First”, “Bull Child”, “Calf Looking”, “Comes At Night”, “Cross Guns”, “Rides By The Door”, and “Wolf Child” are actual Blackfeet family names which go back generations and may have been given by white settlers to describe them.

When we finished the deliveries, Sean dropped me off at De La Salle Blackfeet School to help Brother Ray with the book labeling project. These were books recently acquired for the children’s library in room 101. I’ve really enjoyed this project as well.

My thought for the day: “Take the time to enjoy the wonders and beauty of the people you meet and the places you visit.”


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