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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

If ever you are in Great Falls, Montana, do not hesitate to stop by the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and find out what interesting and historical sights and sounds are going on.

The location is impressive with a gorgeous view of the Missouri River and Black Eagle Dam.

If you are up for a walk and to get in touch with nature, there is a paved trail known as part of the River's Edge Trail that is connected to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. One direction will lead you to Giant Springs Park and Fish Hatchery and the other way will lead you across a very neat bridge that used to be a railroad bridge overpass along with many other sights on the water and around the shores.

I have included other postings today of the Blackfeet Indian dances performed on June 26, 2010 at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. I hope you have found the pictures delightful and the information worth the reading. I couldn't end this blog without including another final picture of the narrator of the evenings event performing a traditional indian dance. He was a very interesting and smart man (a lawyer) who is ground deeply in the beliefs of his people and wants to keep them alive and show the world a glimpse to obtain a better understanding and viewpoint. I hope to return again and see this group -- I may even venture to a pow wow in the near future.

And remember: "Only you can help prevent wild fires (forest fires)."

Blackfeet Indian Grass Dance

Clothing was a major part of the Blackfeet Indian culture. It represented them, their beliefs, and most of all, nature. For example, a circle sewed on blue represented the sun in the sky. Green symbolized grass, and red circles were mountain ash berries. There were special clothes for certain occasions such as ceremonies and dances. When an Indian from another tribe was captured, the Blackfeet would often steal his clothes and copy them, making it their own design, and using it as their own. Men wore native- tanned buckskin garments, with porcupine quilled shirts. Chiefs often wore elaborated head dresses, with white leggings and beaded moccasins.

Women are very important in the Blackfeet Indian tribe, and this is represented in their style of clothing. They are considered to be the most holy of people. They often wore stringed, beaded dresses with assortments of bells, beads, shells, and even elk tusks, which were very rare. On the ordinary working day, they would generally wear a loose fitting gingham dress, about three feet wide and knee length. The sides of the dress were frayed and often beaded.

The Blackfeet were known for their traditional and unique dancing. In the 1800’s, their dances usually symbolized something from nature, for instance the animals, birds, flowers and stars, but today the dances are mostly fancy steps with no meaning at all. There were two major dances, social and ceremonial. Dancing usually involved singing and drumming. Some of the most famous dances were the Pipe dance, the Blacktail Deer dance, and the Medicine Pipe dance.

Today there are still Blackfeet in Montana. Many have lost their heritage, customs and religion but there are a few who keep the true spirit of the Blackfeet alive. Most of the Blackfeet live on a reservation located in Northwest Montana along the Rocky Mountains. Its headquarters are located in Browning, Montana. The reservation is one and a half million acres and is home to 9,000 enrolled members and another 7,000 members living on or around the reservation.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blackfeet Indian Prairie Chicken Dance

The chicken dance came from the Blackfeet confederacy...... The chicken dance (and it's songs) is a sacred dance and not merely a dance style. It is a dance that must be learned and taught in the appropriate way, with the dancer being initiated into the chicken dance society. The dance is imitating the prairie chicken in mating, no bustle is worn.

Most things the dancer carries when he dances have a meaning like the otter skin that is a part of a society, there are a lot of things that some people don't understand about this dance.

From George Ceepeekous: Dancer "Back in 1961, a prairie chicken landed right in front of my car one night. My wife and I were coming to the reserve from Raymore. He landed right in front of my car, so I had to stop. Then all of a sudden, he started to showing off, and dancing right there on the road. His little feet were going back and forth. he moved pretty fast on his feet. He would shake, and hop around in a circle. I started to think, Geez, that was something. 'It was like he was showing me how to dance the chicken style. So I sat there, and watched him dance until he was done. He danced for us for about ten to fifteen minutes. The whole time he danced too, then he flew away. This is a true story!

The chicken dance. I call it the Prairie Chicken Dance. This is how my dad made me understand it. You can say it was the Straight Chicken Dance. I heard a lot of places calling it different, but I learned it as the Prairie Chicken Dance. One thing I don't like, is just calling it the chicken dance. Some people who don't understand this dance, might think of it as a farm chicken, or some other chicken. At one powwow, they were making fun of it. They called it the Kentucky Fried Chicken Dance, and I was in the bunch, dancing. They called us the Kentucky Fried Chicken Dancers. That is not right, you know. It offends us.

I know that the Prairie Chicken Dance started the same time as the Grass Dance style. There was one old man, a long time ago, watching these prairie chickens in the spring. They were mating and doing their courting dance. That's where he picked up these dance styles. Grass and Prairie Chicken Dance is almost danced the same way."

Blackfeet Indian Fancy Feathers Dance

One of the most visually spectacular dances to watch of the Blackfeet Indian is the Fancy Feathers Dance. There is more aerial artistry in jumps and turns with the dancer's feet being in mid-air more than on the ground while performing.

The costume is very elaborate and weighs around 65 pounds.

Some history of the Blackfeet Indian can be found by clicking on this highlighted sentence.

Another interesting fact we heard during the presentation was how to acquire an eagle feather. One must write to the US Fish and Wildlife Department making a request. We were told there is usually a 3 year waiting period because you are put on a list and the feathers are rare. If a person finds an eagle that has died, he should turn it into the Fish and Wildlife Department.

Blackfeet Indian Bell Dancer

Another dancer at the Blackfeet Indian Dance Presentation this past weekend at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center was "The Bell Dancer". Her sweet young daughter also performed some of the dance with her and then decided she was tired and moved over to sit on her father's knee and help with the drumming on the hand drum while the men sang the song for the dancer.

Her regalia was exquisite with so much detail I had to go up after the performance and ask for some close up shots of her moccasins, beadwork and bells.

The bells are made out of snuff cans. There are 365 bells which represent a dream the dancer has had. The dancer makes her regalia along with the help of family members. They can take years to finish. She also had a beautiful beaded purse she carried while she danced, but I did not think to ask for a close up picture of it.

More postings to follow with the men who performed dances at the festival as well.

Blackfeet Indian Shawl Dance

This past weekend some out of town family and friends went with us to Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center to see a Blackfeet Indian Dance Presentation and to take part in the 11th Annual Illuminaria Walk along the Missouri River on the River's Edge Trail along Black Eagle Dam.

The evening was beautiful but bright as the sun shown brightly through most of the dance presentation.

I fell in love with the colors of this regalia worn for "The Shawl Dance". It is more modern in design than the usual buckskin most are made out of.

The sun really made it shine and everyone could tell the dancer loved the spirit that flowed through the air with the hand drummers beating the drum and singing their song for her.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vintage Photography

I love looking at and at photos people put on from their ancestors or finds at garage sales, rummage markets, or attics of old homes.

This person has found a treasure in several photos of the same couple.

Love the wedding photograph. I am not much of a mustache sort of person, but he has the handles going on here. Probably was a thinker and twist on the ends regularly.

You can tell from the following photograph that they have a little one on the way. Also, like most women, she has changed her hair some and now has bangs.

I wonder why way back then there were no smiles on the folks -- maybe they had not come up with the phrase -- "say cheese".

Maybe it might have been because of the torture of having to sit for a long period of time while the picture set.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Do You Believe In Fairies?

Do You Believe In Fairies?, originally uploaded by Clodders.

Fairies are elusive wonderous little things, we
saw them best as children, tried to touch their
fairy wings. But now that we are all grown up
and adult, we don't see, those tiny wonderous
beings, that we saw when we were three.
They visit us each morning flying round as we
get up, the sleep that we wipe from our eyes,
comes from their fairy cup.
They wait and hope that we will say those
words they long to hear; "I believe in Fairies",
say it loud and say it clear.
For everytime you say it, another fairy will
survive, but when you say I don't believe
another fairy dies.

"I believe in Fairies"

- Sue Fellows

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Four Worms

A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon.

Four worms were placed into four separate jars.

The first worm was put into a container of alcohol.

The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.

The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup.

The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.

At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:

The first worm in alcohol - Dead.

The second worm in cigarette smoke - Dead

Third worm in chocolate syrup - Dead

Fourth worm in good clean soil - Alive.

So the Minister asked the congregation -

What did you learn from this demonstration?

Maxine was sitting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said,

'As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate,
you won't have worms!'

That pretty much ended the service --

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Reading

The boys and I visited the Great Falls Public Library yesterday to return books and pick up a couple new ones to read. My Avery (age 10) is really getting into reading and listening to me read chapter books appropriate for his age. We just finished one called The Shadowmaker complete with a wizard, poor children and spells -- of course ending with the kids being smarter and happier in the end.

The kid's section in the library has been changed to look like a pirate ship has beached. Also, the walls have a very neat and extensive collage of pictures with an I SPY GAME challenge -- "How many figure skaters can you find?" riddle.

The boys sat down and completed the United States puzzle together and enjoyed themselves.

Outside, I pulled the digital camera out and Avery took a good picture of the arch fountain built out front last summer.

A good time was had, but drinks were needed to keep us all hydrated while out running errands.

Hope you are getting a little reading in this summer!