Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 15, 2002 - Issue 63


pictograph divider


Tepees Bring Blessing to Ulm Pishkun

credits: Tribune photo by Leigh T. Jimmie
The final tepee pole is put in place during a tepee-raising ceremony at Ulm Pishkun State Park

ULM, MT - In a solemn tepee lodge blessing ceremony Saturday, Blackfeet elder Robert "Rice" Crawford passed on the right to paint lodges and conduct ceremonies to Blackfeet tribal member Lyle Heavy Runner.

Crawford blessed tepees built by local students for the Ulm Pishkun State Park, one of the largest buffalo jumps in North America, 10 miles southwest of Great Falls.

Crawford, 71, began by mixing "Indian paint," a combination of tallow, oil base and red clay, or "wild mercury," before he asked Heavy Runner, 43, of Great Falls to smudge the four directions using a sacred eagle feather and a braid of lighted sweet grass.

"This is so that the lodge will last a long, safe time up here, and it will be well protected," said Crawford as he prayed. He was joined by his wife, Naomi.

About 50 people attended the ceremony.

"(The tepees) will be a fabulous component of the park here," said Connie Jacobs, park manager. "They'll teach and educate people about the Native American culture and the people behind these (tepees)."

Crawford of Heart Butte said that since he is "getting up there in age, I have to have someone take over painting" the lodges.

He said he was given the right from some great spiritual leaders, and now, "I'm going to pass it on. Lyle will have the right to paint lodges and do ceremonies."

Painting a lodge or tepee involves mixing the traditional paints and creating images that often tell a spiritual story.

The All Nations Pishkun Association, formed in 2000, brought the tepee-building project to Great Falls elementary students last week. Traditional elders taught students, as well as parents and volunteers, how to build a tepee, as well as the etiquette, history, legends and stories behind it.

The project was funded by a Montana cultural trust grant and completed as a partnership among the Indian Culture Club, the Great Falls Public School District and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

To close the ceremony, Crawford put paint on the wrists of Heavy Runner and the women who sewed the heavy canvas tepees and helped with the project. A few children also had their wrists painted.

Ulm, MT Map
Maps by Travel

pictograph divider


Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


Canku Ota Logo


Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Thank You