Bruce Plummer is a native Montana Indian. These days you could be aghast at my political incorrectness or insensitivity, but he told us on day one of our recent Indian cultural encounter that, “In Montana we like to be called Indians, not Native Americans. You were born in America right? So you’re a native American.” You have to like this guy and his straight shooting ways! 🙂 He is an indigenous Christian pastor on the Fort Belknap reservation of northern Montana, nestled in what Lewis and Clark dubbed on their 1803 trip west, “The Little Rockies.”
I’ll probably talk more about Bruce, and you can read about him and his ministry here if you like.
I came to meet Bruce and became acquainted with his ministry through one of my best friends ever, Justin Blasingame, who traveled here the last two years to serve. In fact, just about one year ago at the young age of fifty-nine, he had a sudden and totally unexpected heart attack and entered eternity from this reservation. Justin is the main reason for my going this year, and I’ll tell more of his story in a subsequent blog.
After I decided to serve on the reservation this year in Justin’s honor, our church youth group decided to do the same. Our youth group community, appropriately named “The Tribe,” more than a year before any of this came about, decided they wanted to go somewhere to serve this summer, and not just go to a conference seeking spiritual growth. Finally Justin’s wife decided to courageously face going there, a place her husband loved, and serve the King there as well. So that was our part of the troop heading west, northwest some two days journey from Northwest Arkansas joining up with youth and adults from First Baptist Church, Lavaca, AR.
First a little bit about the lay of the land, physically and culturally, which will serve as an introductory blog to this beautiful, relational , spiritual adventure. From there I’ll start to rely heavily on my journaling to keep the content fresh and real.
The first night we stayed at Beaver Creek on the Fort Belknap reservation, then gathered all our gear, had breakfast, and drove some four hours to the other side of the Little Rockies to the Rocky Boy reservation. Then we set up tee pees and camped in them for then next four days attending and serving at their annual pow wow.
The Fort Belknap Indian Reservation is shared by two Native American tribes, the A’aninin and the Nakoda. The reservation covers 650,000 acres, and is located in north central Montana.
Rocky Boy’s Reservation is near the Canadian border, in north-central Montana. It is graced by the Bears Paw Mountains, which provide a dramatic contrast to the flat bottomlands of this area.
Rocky Boy’s provides a home for about 2,500 members or 55% of the Chippewa-Cree tribe, and encompasses approximately 122,000 acres. The name “Rocky Boy” was derived from the name of a leader of a band of Chippewa Indians. It actually meant “Stone Child,” but it was not translated correctly from Chippewa into English, and “Rocky Boy” evolved.
For those of you who have never experienced a pow wow, I would describe it as a combination of a county fair, a huge family reunion, and a cultural celebration. There is much Indian dance, costumes, food, games, and life — lived and shared — at a pow wow.
I’ll let this set the stage while my photos and journal tell you the rest of the story. 🙂
Click here for an excellent video by our very talented youth and worship leader Manit Attakul highlighting our team’s activities and telling our story in a very creative fashion. You’ll enjoy it! 🙂 And be inspired.
From my journal July 31… “Blog about the adventure in serving and following ‘the Christ’ even Jesus of Nazareth, Who lives, and walks the earth still! Including the high places and the dark places.” Amen.