Establishing shot: Blackfeet student talking to the Senior class in the Browining High School Library while Principal Blomquist stands in the background.
Browning High School, Browning Montana
Major themes covered: Blackfeet student council members and Senior Class members of 1977; Indian education on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Native activities shown:
Individuals Named: Stan Juneau, Dona Douglas, Lois Sharp, Stan, Lyle Heavy Runner, Sarah, Mrs. Salloway, Sonny Kennedy, Ron Blomquist, Valerie Bird, Wally Pepion, Lynne Keenan, Pryde Lahr, Elizabeth Lewis.
Native language spoken: no
The beginning of the video shows the Principal, Ron Blomquist, speaking with the 1977 Senior class of Browning High in the school library. Blomquist was Vice-Principal of Browning High from 1973-1974. In the years 1976-1977, Ron Blomquist was the Principal of Browning High. In the video he lectures the students about their poor attendance performance and encourages them to commit to completing their High School education by passing the required courses. Ron Blomquist still resides in Browning, MT where he is currently part of the Administration as Title III Director for the Blackfeet Community College.
One of the students filmed in the library is Junie Sinclair Powell, who is currently a School Board member for Browning Public Schools and now holds a position as Trustee. Powell graduated from Browning High School in 1977.
Miss Dona Douglas, mentioned in the video, was a school counselor during the making of this video, and since then has married and is now Mrs. Dona Bremner. Mr. Stan Juneau was also a school Counselor during the making of the video and later became District Superintendent, but is now retired. His daughter, Denise Juneau, is now State Superintendent, and is the first Native American to hold that office.
The last half of the video focuses on six Senior class members having a discussion about their academic experience at Browning High. The students include: Valerie Bird, Sonny Kennedy, Wally Pepion, Lyle Heavy Runner, Lynne Keenan and Pryde Lahr. Their conversation is a testament to the school's lack of proper attention to Native American studies programs. The students state that they are not engaged in their education because the school does not teach subjects that are relevant to them. Furthermore, the students feel disconnected from their educational experience because they feel as if the school system does not care for them or their NAtive point of view. Here we see Native youth longing to be reconnected to their Blackfeet culture and traditions, but they feel that the school system and administration are preventing them from being able to accomplish that.
Lyle J. Heavy Runner is still living and is strongly involved in carrying on Blackfeet traditional knowledge. He was mentored by Blackfeet traditionalist, Robert “Rice” Crawford. In 2010, Lyle Heavy Runner was commissioned to erect an exhibit of a Blackfeet Tipi at the Brooklyn Museum’s "Tipi: Heritage of the Plains Indian." Traditionally, the designs painted on the Tipi would be passed down through generations; Robert “Rice” Crawford received the Tipi symbols from his grandparents and later passed down the symbols to Lyle, his “student,” who will hopefully pass down the knowledge to future generations.
Since the making of this video, several changes have been made to improve Blackfeet education in Browning, MT., including the remodeling of the school’s fundamental design in order to reflect the cultural aspects of Blackfeet tradition. The Browning School District now has a mandatory “Indian Education for All” requirement. The schools (K-12) strive to be culturally sensitive institutions that offer courses relevant to Blackfeet history, culture, language and government. At Browning High School all students are required to take at least one semester of Blackfeet History.
Mary Joe Bremner is currently the teacher for Blackfeet Government, and Lori Tatsey is the current teacher for Blackfeet culture and History; both teachers are members of the Blackfeet tribe. However, despite the efforts of Administration to improve Blackfeet student’s educational experience within their institutions, it was reported in the May 2013 Board Policy Review, that 90% of senior class members reflected in their portfolios that they felt the teachers were un-caring, and that their environment at school was “un-friendly.”
Most of the information gathered on the people in this video was shared by Teresa Gilham, the current Browning High School Librarian (2013).
--Sara Guzman, 2013
Montana Code 20-1-501; Annotated 2013. Legislative recognition of American Indian cultural heritage.
‘Indian Education for All’ document.
Missoula Public Schools documents regarding MCA 20-1-501
‘Indian Education for All,’ document regarding an understanding of Montana’s American Indians.
Partial documentation of ‘The Constitution of the State of Montana, MCA 20-1-501, 2011.’
Montana State document, ‘Race to the Top’ policy manual.
Browning Public Schools official webpage.
Browning Public School documents and reports, regarding policy and procedure.'Brief history on American Indian Education in the United States.
National Indian Education Association manual, ‘Native Education 101.’
Journal of American Indian Education, Vol. 11, No. 3, May 1972.
Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights addresses, ‘Equal education opportunity for Native American students in Montana Public Schools.’
Montana Office of Public Instruction: Indian Education.
Web video resources
‘We can do it! Design of Browning High School Part 1.’ Time = 00:06:41
‘This is our School – Design of Browning High School Part 2.’ Time = 00:05:34
‘The Children will benefit – Design of Browning High School Part 3.’ Time = 00:09:08
‘Browning MT Graduation matters.’ Time = 00:04:34
‘Browning High School Singers.’ Time = 00:04:07
‘Browning MT Graduation Matters – Native Tribute.’ Time = 00:04:05
Lopach, James J, Margery H. Brown, and Richmond L. Clow. Tribal Government Today: Politics on Montana Indian Reservations. Niwot, Colo: University Press of Colorado, 1998. Internet resource.
Montana Education. Helena, MT: Montana Education Association, 1924.
Equal Educational Opportunity for Native American Students in Montana Public Schools. Washington, DC: The Commission, 2001. Internet resource.
Cross-references to other AIFG Films = Blackfeet01, Blackfeet03, Blackfeet04, Blackfeet05, Blackfeet06, Blackfeet 07 , Blackfeet08, Blackfeet09, Blackfeet10, Blackfeet11, Blackfeet12, Blackfeet13, Blackfeet14.
--Sara Guzman, 2013