Montana Blackfeet

Program Itinerary

25 & 15 Day High School Service Programs

Montana Blackfeet 1

– 25 Days –

Below is the VISIONS Montana Blackfeet 1 summer program itinerary for our teen volunteers! The actual schedule may be a little different because of the flow of community service projects, weather or cultural events that we are invited to, but the primary activities are always woven into our Blackfeet reservation teen service projects. 

 

Day 1: Arrive at the Kalispell airport, where VISIONS leaders are waiting to meet each student. All teens make a quick call home before the group heads out.  (Additional calls home happen about once a week but as with all VISIONS locations, this is otherwise a tech free teen summer program.) Then we’re off on a gorgeous two-hour drive through glacier country, alongside Glacier National Park, to get to our cozy homebase at the Yellow Bird Woman Sanctuary conservation ranch, a few miles outside the main reservation town of Browning. Once there, we settle in and start to get oriented.

 

Day 2: On this first full day, leaders cook us a hearty breakfast. Continuing our orientation, we get to know the worksites and spend time with our carpenters who lead us through hand- and power-tool training for the construction projects ahead. In the afternoon, we hike and swim in the Two Medicine region of Glacier National Park. This area is a powerful and holy place for the Blackfeet, and in recent years has been a focal point for environmental and tribal groups coming together to fight oil drilling interests. (The case against drilling was won recently.) We end the day with a relaxed dinner and our first Circle meeting. 

 

Days 3 – 5: Time to get to work, with three worksites to choose from, which may include repair and renovation of elders’ homes, and building wheelchair ramps or community structures. We also begin our “homebase crew” days, when a rotating subgroup helps with grocery shopping and clean up of our living space. On one afternoon, we do a scavenger hunt in the reservation town of Browning to get to know our surroundings. On another, we visit the Museum of the Plains Indian. 

 

We will also take a Reservation tour with one of our Blackfeet friends who talks with us about the history of the important sites. The reservation encompasses 1.5 million acres (making it the third largest in Montana) and the tour gives us a sense of the vast history embedded into the landscape. In the evening we head back to the ranch for a cookout and s’mores. 

 

Days 6 – 8: Pack up our backpacks for a two-night camping trip. We hike in on the first day, set up our camp and campfire and share stories around the flames. The next day we take day hikes from our camp and bask in the incredible natural beauty of this place. On the third day, we strike camp and hike out. 

 

Days 9 – 13: Dig back into our worksites, making tangible progress on projects. In the afternoons, we take a beading workshop, attend the popular street dance in town, visit a nearby mountain stream for short hikes and swimming), listen to guest speakers and visit the Tipi Village to see how traditional tents are constructed. Other activities that we may have time for include touring the greenhouse at Blackfeet Community College to learn about native medicinal plants and visiting the tribe’s buffalo herd.

 

Days 14 & 15: North American Indian Days celebration takes place this weekend, during which time we’ll see a parade and possibly a rodeo, Native American sports competitions, and one of the region’s biggest powwows with traditional dancing, drumming and the captivating Grand Entries. We’ll also be going horseback riding in Glacier National Park and making a jaunt to Green Lake for a campfire and s’mores to round out the weekend.

 

Days 16 – 20: Dig in for another full week of work on our projects. Afternoon activities include a drive up Logan Pass (watch for Bighorn sheep and mountain goats) to hike to St. Mary’s Falls, a visit to the Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery, produce-shopping at a farmers market, laidback outdoor games at the ranch and beading projects. 

 

Another exciting and unique experience we will get to be part of this week is the Sun Dance sacred ceremony, where we help with set-up and watch ancient dances reenacted.

 

Days 21 & 22: We use our last weekend to spend time with people we’ve gotten to know on the reservation, take a long hike and have a cook-off competition at the ranch. 

 

Days 23 & 24: Work to complete all our projects, do a Big Clean at the ranch, have a final dinner with community friends to say our goodbyes, and then head to a campground near Kalispell, where we spend our last night of the program.  

 

Day 25: Teens depart out of Kalispell, and leaders see each participant off on their flights.

Montana Blackfeet 2

– 15 Days –

Below is the VISIONS Montana Blackfeet 2 summer program itinerary for our teen volunteers! The actual schedule may be a little different because of the flow of community service projects, weather or cultural events that we are invited to, but the primary activities are always woven into our Blackfeet reservation teen service projects.

 

Day 1: Arrive at the Kalispell airport, where VISIONS leaders are waiting to meet each student. All teens make a quick call home before the group heads out. (Additional calls home happen about once a week but as with all VISIONS locations, this is otherwise a tech free teen summer program.) Then we’re off on a gorgeous two-hour drive through glacier country, alongside Glacier National Park, to get to our cozy homebase at the Yellow Bird Woman Sanctuary conservation ranch, a few miles outside the main reservation town of Browning. Once there, we settle in and start to get oriented.

 

Day 2: On this first full day, leaders cook us a hearty breakfast. Continuing our orientation, we get to know the worksites and spend time with our carpenters who lead us through hand- and power-tool training for the construction projects ahead. In the afternoon, we hike and swim in the Two Medicine region of Glacier National Park. This area is a powerful and holy place for the Blackfeet, and in recent years has been a focal point for environmental and tribal groups coming together to fight oil drilling interests. (The case against drilling was won recently.) We end the day with a relaxed dinner and our first Circle meeting. 

 

Days 3 – 5: Time to get to work, with three worksites to choose from, which may include repair and renovation of elders’ homes, and building wheelchair ramps or community structures. We also begin our “homebase crew” days, when a rotating subgroup helps with grocery shopping and clean up of our living space. On one afternoon, we do a scavenger hunt in the reservation town of Browning to get to know our surroundings. On another, we visit the Museum of the Plains Indian. 

 

We will also take a Reservation tour with one of our Blackfeet friends who talks with us about the history of the important sites. The reservation encompasses 1.5 million acres (making it the third largest in Montana) and the tour gives us a sense of the vast history embedded into the landscape. In the evening we head back to the ranch for a cookout and s’mores. 

 

Days 6 & 7: Pack up our backpacks for a two-night camping trip. We hike in on the first day, set up our camp and campfire and share stories around the flames. The next day we take day hikes from our camp and bask in the incredible natural beauty of this place. On the third day, we strike camp and hike out. 

 

Days 8 – 12: Dig in for a full week of work on our projects. Afternoon and evening activities include a drive up Logan Pass (watch for Bighorn sheep and mountain goats) to hike to St. Mary’s Falls, a visit to the Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery, attending the popular street dance in town, and going to check out the tribe’s buffalo herd. We will also end work early one day in order to go horseback riding in Glacier National Park and make a jaunt to Green Lake for a campfire and s’mores.

 

Day 13: The annual Powwow Indian Days celebration in the small Blackfeet town of Heart Butte takes place this weekend. We attend the vibrant Grand Entry, community feed, and dancing and drumming competitions. The day concludes with a going away dinner with community friends back at the ranch.

 

Day 14: On our last full day we wrap up our worksites, do a Big Clean at homebase, say our goodbyes and head to a campground near Kalispell, where we spend our last night of the program.

 

Day 15: Teens depart out of Kalispell, and leaders see each participant off on their flights.

Celebrating 30 Years