In 1991, artist Darrell Norman moved back to his birthplace on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, east of Glacier National Park near Browning, Mont. Two years later he built Lodgepole Gallery to show modern and traditional works by Blackfeet artists and, after inquiries from visitors, opened Tipi Village. Guests sleep in cloth tepees and sometimes wake to the sound of galloping mustangs. www.blackfeetculturecamp.com.
Q Who stays here?
A Lots of families, plus some bicyclists and retirees. We get foreign travelers too. Some stay just a night, others three or four days.
Q What activities do you offer?
A I teach traditional crafts, such as making a parfleche [rawhide case] or a drum from authentic materials. I give talks about Blackfeet heritage, culture, and history, and today's challenges. I also line up guests with other tribe members to go horseback riding or fishing, learn to bead, or take a walk on the prairie to identify medicinal plants.
Q How about meals?
A We cook up deer, elk, trout, buffalo. Almost everyone likes buffalo. We try to make Native food in the traditional way, but occasionally we have to substitute. Serviceberry soup used to be thickened with bitterroot; now we add cornstarch and a little sugar.
Q Questions you get?
A "Can you make buffalo milk cheese?" and "Where are the Indians?" Actually, our people have been intermarrying with non- Indians for over 200 years. My looks reflect that, but I'm an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation.
Q The origin of the word Blackfeet?
A Early French Canadian explorers encountered some of our tribe after we'd crossed a burned prairie and our moccasins were all black. We in Montana call ourselves Amskapi Pikuni, or "poorly tanned robes."
Photography by Beverly Hagley
This article was first published in May 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.