Joan Cobell was born and raised in Browning, Montana, a town of fewer than 1500 people and the headquarters of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Joan has been VISIONS Blackfeet dinner cook since 2015. In addition to providing delicious meals, she adds a grounding presence as a subtle holder of the culture, which she is willing to share with any participant who wishes to learn more while working alongside her in the kitchen.
Joan also brings a deep connection to our homebase on the conservation ranch where we are fortunate to live each summer. This land, now named Yellow Bird Woman Sanctuary, at one time belonged to her great grandmother, who raised four children in the one-room cabin that still sits on the property. Joan has two sons, Jalen and Chazz. Chazz is a renowned Indian Relay champion. Joan’s father, Ervin Carlson, is a project manager for the tribe’s Buffalo “Iinnii” Program. Iinnii is the Blackfeet word for buffalo and the tribe has been expanding the size and grazing area of the herd, and has been building a market for the healthy buffalo meat, as well.
Joan brings to VISIONS her love of meeting new people and enjoys seeing leaders and participants connect with her home by learning about the history and the culture while doing service projects. Joan instructs participants how to make Indian tacos, using that time to get to know the students as well as help them accomplish something specific to her culture. She also appreciates being able to teach in a hands-on way, from a different perspective, working with kids in the kitchen whenever time allows. It is important to her to show respect and welcome VISIONS into her community, and help teach them about what the Blackfeet people have to offer.
Joan is currently enrolled at Blackfeet Community College, where she is studying to get a Health Science Degree. She plans on transferring to Western Montana College to continue with a Bachelor’s in Microbiology.
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