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The first annual Iinnii Days Encampment is set to be held from May 28 to May 31, with some events taking place on June 1. The event takes place at the Buffalo Calf Winter Camp (AMS Ranch) and involves a myriad of activities and events centered around Iinnii (bison).

Iinnii Days is a community collaborative effort that came from the Iinnii Initiative Steering Committee. In February we had our first steering committee meeting with new members from the Blackfeet community. Our sister tribes from the rest of the Blackfoot Confederacy were unable to make it due to extreme weather conditions. Chief Earl Old Person is part of the steering committee, and he said to go on with any planning because we cannot wait to do work. 

At the end of the steering committee meeting, Browning High School science teacher Leo Bird asked if he could have an encampment down at the Buffalo Calf Winter Camp to honor the work of his students identifying 200 historical Blackfoot images, and I knew that the Iinnii Initiative needed to have a community input event. So in February the steering committee decided to create Iinnii Days. 

Since then we have had another steering committee meeting in Browning to plan Iinnii Days. Iinnii Days has ignited our community, and to date we have many partners. The encampment is to celebrate the Iinnii and to celebrate ourselves. There are many activities already planned. (See itinerary below.) 

We encourage anyone who wants to set up an informational booth or have a learning station to please contact me. But most importantly, the Iinnii Steering Committee invites people to come enjoy being outside, learning and feeling welcome where our buffalo roam and where it is culturally significant. If you want to set up a lodge or tent, you are also welcome to do that and stay the entire week, or if you only can attend a few hours that is okay too! The event has grown to the point that we need volunteers and donations. A large part of the costs are being met by the Blackfeet Buffalo Program, but even if you can’t contribute, we welcome all guests.

Itinerary

(subject to change)

Tuesday, May 28

Traditional Encampment Set up, Buffalo Calf 

Winter Camp, Lower Two Medicine

Opening pipe ceremony, Horn Society, Mike Bruised Head will start the day at 10 a.m. Encampment set up begins with a Lodge, learning curriculum to be included. The buffalo harvest will be in the late afternoon, and after the supper hour at dark there will be star stories that are significant to the origin of the Blackfeet people. Supper will be traditional foods.

Wednesday, May 29 

Community Day and Iinnii Community Meeting

Celebration of the Return of the Buffalo Calves.

The day starts with a book signing from Keith Aune, former Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) bison director, who was instrumental in starting the Iinnii Initiative, followed by a presentation by Mike Bruised Head from the Horn Society and the significance of the Buffalo Calf Winter Camp area. The buffalo feed will take place at noon, and the buffalo reenactment will take place after the feed. The community meeting will have Blackfeet elders sharing their stories of the buffalo, a panel with partnerships on the Elk Island Buffalo return, and community input on buffalo restoration. A horse travois demonstration and learning session will take place after the community meeting. Then, after the supper hour, you will have a chance to view the short films “Bring Them Home” and “Iniskim” that were done about the Iinnii Initiative. That evening will be a campfire talk and sharing of traditional knowledge.

Thursday, May 30 

Experiential Learning Day

The day is dedicated to learning stations and learning curricula that includes a drone demonstration with Jordan Kennedy (Blackfeet) of Harvard who will do a question and answer session about her engineering research work. There will be a photography and film workshop, buffalo curriculum workshop, Ksik Staki (Beaver) presentation, buffalo box building, traditional plant uses, horse curriculum, and water and land hands-on learning. The evening will feature a horse riding clinic and storytelling at the campfire. 

Friday, May 31

Tear Down Day at Camp

While camp is being torn down there will still be activities taking place such as small guided tours to the buffalo, a horse riding clinic and orientation for people participating in the buffalo drive. The camp will be moved to the Buffalo Calf Main Ranch, 15 miles west. The evening meal will be at that camp.

Saturday, June 1

Buffalo Drive Starts

Community members are welcome to view the drive and take pictures at designated areas. If you want to participate in the drive you may contact the Blackfeet Buffalo Program for more information. There may be a fee for a guided ride. The ride will end at the summer camp on Highway 89.

If there are any questions, please email Teri Dahle at tdahle@blackfeetnation.com.

A more detailed schedule will be emailed after we receive the input forms back.

In case of bad weather, all events will be held at the Summer Camp Ranch five miles east of Browning past the Y.

Please email me for a detailed map of the Buffalo Calf Winter Camp location.

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