... did I mention I was serving a foreign mission??
I know that I've already mentioned a decent amount about the reservation and Native American people, so if I repeat anything, I apologize... But I felt like maybe describing more of the culture and the kind of people I've been working with.
Starting with the Rocky Boy reservation... I cannot remember the year/time period when it was first established, but originally there were only 27 (maybe 29) families on the reservation. Thus the family trees are rather intertwined and everyone is related to each other in some way.
The reservation originally forced the Chippewa and Cree tribes together- this was a common ordeal that two tribes that traditionally fought each other were made to coexist on a prescribed chunk of land.
Honestly though, Havre and the reservation is as much of a melting pot as the nation. We have met people of many tribes, including Chippewa, Cree, Assinaboine, Blackfeet, Navajo, and Eskimo. I know I've met more, but I cannot remember all of the names. No one we have met is a "pure blood" of their tribe.
On the reservation, you are not to point at anything or anyone. Pointing is disrespectful. Dogs and horses are sacred. Counting the number of dogs on a reservation on any one trip can be somewhat of a game. The first time we went, we counted 37 dogs. The dogs breed out of control, and you will often see tiny terriers trotting along the side of the road.
To share a story about horses, we were visiting a less-active family. The grandfather had mentioned that a grandson was visiting the neighbor's to pick out a dog to bring home. When we were leaving, the grandson was coming home. But he didn't have a dog with him- he had a horse! Apparently the horses roam as freely and owner-less as the dogs and are equally available for adoption. The grandfather was hovering between disapproval and amusement. I personally want to know how the little boy got a rope around the horse to lead it home.
The Native Americans have several traditions- some of which would be included in Bro. Fowles' "Farmboy Does it Again" book if he knew about them.
I believe I've already mentioned- a "pow-wow" exists but is not religious or ceremonial in nature- it is a commercialized dancing competition. The pow-wow season is over, or else Sister Jones and I would find less-actives to take us.
The ceremony that we've heard mentioned several times is the "Sundance" festival. The build a "lodge" each year for the festival. Think large, wide gazebo with only beams for the roof. The inside has a barrier- the singers are in the inside, the dancers on the outside. The idea is to dance and sing and fast for I believe 3 days. To participate, you must be considered clean. The suffering through fasting is symbolic. Towards the end, babies are presented with a new name that must be remembered so they can present it in the next life and not be lost. Some of the families that we have been working with have shared with us their Indian name.
For now, that is all that I can recall of the culture.
But as for Rocky Boy itself... The homes are all practically identical. Most people on the reservation do not work, and instead choose to live off of food stamps. Many have the attitude that only family matters, and they don't need anything else, and so there isn't a point to working.
Speaking of family, raising children tends to skip generations. Teenage births seem to be the norm as opposed to the exception, which then results in grandparents raising grandchildren.
Most homes are not well kept and dirty, but not all. There are definitely nicer homes and everyone we have met is very nice.
Rocky Boy itself is very small is apparently is the only reservation in Montana that doesn't have a city or town. For instance, the Blackfeet reservation east of Glacier National Park is more typically referred to as the Browning reservation because of the city Browning. Rocky Boy has a high school and grade school, maybe one gas station, a few bars/casinos, and one or two convenience stores.
I've exhausted myself on this subject.
As for our investigators, the whole family made it to church again this Sunday, and we taught them once again on Friday, and so they are still on schedule for baptism...
We are continuing to probe other investigators, trying to help them gain the desire or else get married or keep commitments.
We tried a referral from a ward council member, only to discover that the lady in question no longer lived at the house and also had never been heard of before. But the couple living there, Native American, were willing to hear what we had to say, so we taught them the restoration on Sunday. We're not sure that they understood the significance of our message, but we'll be back next Sunday to share the Plan of Salvation. Visitations and visions are common stories among Native Americans...
Tomorrow we are teaching a family in which her background is Buddhism and his is atheist. Interesting combination, no?
In other news, we finally got to see the Underground Havre, which started after a fire wiped out all of the business district, so the businesses were just moved into the ground since they didn't have time to haul in wood.
Havre is interesting, it can have fires, droughts, floods, blizzards, wind storms, and all within a couple years.
Anyways, hope everyone's enjoying the snow! We have yet to see a flake here... (knock on wood)
PS. Tomorrow we drive to Helena for our iPads!!! :)