Establishing shot: Gordon Valcourt giving a speech at the Native American Days Morning Ceremony, 1976.
Named locations: Government Square, Browning Legion Post, Blackfeet Community Pre-School, Browning Junior High, 4-H Club (1914-1976), U.S. Public Health Service Hospital, KW Bergan School, Vina Chattin School, Browning Police Department, Browning Elementary School, Browning High School, Blackfeet Trading Post, Browning Wind Program, Browning Western Wear, Star School CDP, Blackfeet DD Program, Blackfeet Boarding School, BIA Office, Blackfeet Tribal Office.
Major themes covered: The first half of this video features Blackfeet community leaders giving speeches in order to encourage Native youth to become active, productive members of their society. The second half of the video focuses on the Native American Day parade in Browning, MT.
Native activities shown:
Individuals Named: Earl Old Person (Chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Council), Gordon Valcourt (descendent of Old Homagon), Bob Jarvis (Tribal Councilman), Joan Kennerly, Walter “Blackie” Wetzel (NCAI President), May Williamson, Margaret Wagoner, Mary Ground, Louie Fish, Fish Wolf Robe, Curly Bear Wagner, Merlin McClesky
Native language spoken: none
Bob Jarvis was a Blackfeet Tribal Councilman during the 1970’s. During the following decade he became involved in the Browning Public School District and served as a School Board Trustee.
Joan Bullshoe Kennerly is the daughter of Lillian and Francis Bullshoe. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Northern Montana College, and soon after she received a Master of Arts in Education from Arizona State University. In 1972 Joan Kennerly was the first person to be awarded the ‘Teacher of the Year’ recognition. Joan Bullshoe was an educator and leader for the Blackfeet community, having served over 20 years within the Blackfeet and Northern Cheyenne public school systems. She was also one of the main advocates that pushed for the implementation of the Native American Day celebration, and was ultimately responsible for making the event state mandated. Among her other accomplishments she wrote a book series with fellow Blackfeet tribal members, June Bullshoe Tatsey, Carmen Bullshoe Marceau, Doris Bullshoe Old Person, and Robert Tailfeathers, entitled, ‘The Napi Stories.’
Walter “Blackie” Wetzel was born on June 27, 1915 on the Blackfeet Reservation. As a young man Walter was a star athlete in High School, where he competed in football, basketball and boxing. In 1938 Walter Wetzel married Doris L. Barlow, and they subsequently had 8 children. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Montana, and during the 1950’s and 1960’s Wetzel became the Tribal Chairman for the Blackfeet Nation. He later served as President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) from 1960 through 1964. It is rumored that Wetzel was responsible for encouraging the controversial use of the “Indian” head mascot by the Washington “Redsk*ns” football team in the early 1970’s; The NCAI did not support this action. Wetzel died on Saturday, November 8, 2003; he was 88 years old.
Clarence Curly Bear Wagner was the son of the great Blackfeet warrior Red Crow; he was born on October 31, 1944. He was a Blackfeet Tribal leader who advocated for American Indian culture reformation. As a young man he was a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and participated in the occupation of Alcatraz and Wounded Knee in 1969. During the War in Vietnam, Curly Bear served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Curly Bear studied at several different colleges and universities including, Idaho State University. He was at the forefront of legal battles involving the repatriation of ancestral remains for many tribes in the U.S. Curly Bear died of cancer at the age of 64, on July 16, 2009. In his life, Curly Bear was known as a historian and storyteller which allowed him to be involved in several documentaries. He spent much of his time traveling the World sharing his cultural knowledge and educating people about Blackfeet culture and American Indian history, in this respect he was a dedicated educator.
Blackfeet Community Preschool is known today as Blackfeet Community Childcare. It is located in Browning Montana. This business still participates in the Native American Day parade.
Browning Junior High is now called Browning Middle School and is part of the Browning Public School system. The current Principle is Julie Hayes and the Assistant Principle is Denis Juneau. Browning Middle School continues to be part of the Native American Day parade.
The 4-H club in Montana was established in 1914. 4-H is an organization that operates at a National level and is present in every state in the U.S. Founded in 1902, A.B. Graham developed a youth initiative program in Ohio to promote interest in the opportunities within rural environments. 4-H encourages youth to learn about agricultural development and farming in their communities. In essence, the organization teaches youth to value where they have come from, to learn how to take care of their environment, while learning important trade skills. 4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health; these 4 core words are the key components initiated in the activities and leadership development executed in 4-H community organizations. Montana State still has several 4-H clubs.
Browning High School continues to have an active band program for students. The current Principle is Shawn Clarke and the Assistant Principle is Janet Guardipee. Browning High continues the tradition of having their own float during the Native American Day parade.
The KW Bergan School specializes in elementary education and is part of the Browning Public School system. The Bergan School still participates in the annual Native American Day parade.
Vina Chattin is an elementary school within the Browning Public School District. The current Principle is Chuck Pilling. Vina Chattin continues to be part of the Native American Day parade.
The town of Browning has never had its own Police Department per se. The Department of Interior provides the town with Police Officers through the BIA Office of Justice Services.
The Shriners Club has a long and complicated history. The Shiners are a large International organization, and are often thought of as fraternities for grown men. Shriner clubs are prevalent in the U.S., yet they have an esoteric quality. All Shrine members must be male, and must be a Mason. Established in 1872, Walter Fleming and William Florence structured their organization after Ancient Arabian Order. Originally for Noble members of society the Shriners now claim to accept a more board array of individuals in their organization. Shriners are usually recognized as embellished Fez wearers, which has been a tradition since the beginning of Shriner Clubs. The head wear was named after Fez, Morocco and was adopted because of the organizations roots in Arabic themes. A Shriners Fez is always adorned with the Shriner emblem, which includes the symbols of a crescent moon, five-point star, Egyptian Pharaoh Head, and a scimitar. The Shriners Club is well-known for their active fundraising for Children’s Hospitals Nation- wide. There are about 200 Shriners temples (HQ) throughout North America, including three in Montana in the towns of Billings, Helena and Butte.
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Carmichael, David L. Sacred Sites, Sacred Places. London: Routledge, 1994.
Cooper, Karen C. Spirited Encounters: American Indians Protest Museum Policies and Practices. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2008.
Gulliford, Andrew. Preserving Western History. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005.
Hill, Norbert S. Words of Power: Voices from Indian America. Golden, Colo: Fulcrum Pub, 1994.
Reid, Catherine. Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
Sally Thompson, Happy Avery, Kim Lugthart, Elizabeth Sperry. Tribal Perspectives on American History Volume 2, Great Plains: Upper Missouri basin. 2009. Regional Learning Project. The University of Montana Center for Continuing Education.
Smith, Sherry L. Reimagining Indians: Native Americans through Anglo Eyes, 1880-1940. Oxford: Oxford University, 2000.
Wissler, Clark, Alice B. Kehoe, and Stewart E. Miller. Amskapi Pikuni: The Blackfeet People. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2012.
Yearbook of Cultural Property Law. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press Inc., 2010
Seibel, Dennis. Montana, 1492. Montana: Dennis Seibel Entertainment, 1991.
Official webpage for the town of Browning, MT, home of the Blackfeet reservation.
Information on the athletic accomplishments of Walter Wetzel.
National Congress of American Indian leadership timeline.
NCAI PDF document concerning the use of “Indian” images for sports mascots (Walter Wetzel).
Billings Gazette article, ‘Walter Siks-a-num (Blackie) S. Wetzel.’
Independent Record article, ‘Tribal elder rubbed elbows with elite’ (Walter Wetzel).
Curly Bear Wagner: audio recordings
Curly Bear Wagner: A brief biography
Washington Post article, ‘American Indian historian urged return of ancestral remains’ (Curly Bear).
Missoulian article, ‘Blackfeet historian Curly Bear Wagner dies.’
Buffalo Post article, ‘Weekend events in Cody, Wyoming, honor Blackfeet educator, storyteller, Curly Bear Wagner.’
Grave site information: Clarence “Curl Bear” Wagner.
Browning Middle School webpage
Browning Middle School Library site
Ex Libris, blog spot for Browning Middle School
4-H organization official webpage
Montana State 4-H webpage
Browning High School home page
Montana Shriners Club information
U.S. Public Health Service webpage
KW Bergan School homepage
Vina Chattin School homepage
Browning Police Department information
U.S. Department of Interior: BIA Law Enforcement
Blackfeet Trading Post
Browning Public School document regarding American Indian Heritage Day
List of American Indian publications
Web video resources:
‘Curly Bear Wagner guided us at Little Big Horn Battlefield.’ Time = 00:00:32
‘The Creative Story P. 1 – Curly Bear Wagner.’ Time = 00:06:32 (audio recording).
‘The Creative Story P. 2 – Curly Bear Wagner.’ Time = 00:08:52 (audio recording).
‘Native American Indian Days underway in Browning.’ Time = 00:01:36
Cross-references to other AIFG Films:
--Sara Guzman, 2013