It was sunny and windy on the lawn in front of the Museum of the Plains Indian on Friday, June 8, and a large crowd gathered to commemorate the devastating flood that occurred here 54 years ago.
The Blackfeet Color Guard brought in the flags as Mary Ellen LaFromboise assumed emcee responsibilities for the event, introducing Gertie Heavy Runner who offered prayers for all.
The resiliency of the Blackfeet people in calamitous times, as well as their ability to pitch in together to help one another were themes that LaFromboise stressed, as well as the profound changes the aftermath of the event wrought.
Foremost among her observations was the building of “flood homes” which moved people who had mostly been living on their allotments into towns like Browning and Starr School where they had to adjust to more crowded conditions.
Although they were meant to be just temporary, LaFromboise noted many people still live in those structures which were largely built by survivors of the flood.
Blackfeet Chairman Harry Barnes welcomed those attending, and the Rawhide Singers provided traditional accompaniment to the event. And while some previous commemorations have had limited numbers of folks who were willing to share their experiences, this year a large number of people talked about the flood. The list included Rhonda Connelly, Dave and Larry Reevis, Emerald “Beep” Grant, Leatha Kipp, Floyd “Bob” Gervais, Kenny Oscar, Winslow Evans, Bill Spotted Eagle, Floyd Rider and several others.
Wreathes had already been placed on the twin monuments commemorating those lost in the 1964 flood, as well as those lost in a vehicular accident in 1976 that cost the lives of members of the Fish, Many Hides and Make Cold Weather families. And when the flags were removed, many workers as well as the Global Volunteers served up a luncheon for everyone to cap off the ceremonies.