"We're letting the past go and looking forward to putting on the best Heart Butte Indian Days possible," said Heart Butte Society Celebration Committee member Gerald Cooper Monday, July 28. Sitting in the office of committee chair Vera Weaselhead, all is activity as she fields calls about the Celebration's 17th season. "For about a month before the powwow, the phone starts ringing and doesn't quit," Cooper added.
This year's HBSC honors Franklin "Bacon" and Rose "Ethel" Comes At Night who were lost as a result of an accident in the spring of 2007. "Bacon and Ethel were really outstanding in the community and missed on the Reservation," said Cooper. "They worked with music and cursillo groups, so it was a big loss to the Heart Butte community and the reservation."
Different from its northern cousin, North American Indian Days, the Heart Butte Society Celebration is run by the society for which it is named. The original society was revived in 1992 when Ernie Fitz gave them a drum, signifying their readiness to resume the celebration. Only members of the Heart Butte Society can be members of the Celebration Committee, and all the people involved do so on a voluntary basis.
This year begins with camp setup Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 6-7, and the first Grand Entry is set for 7 p.m. Thursday evening. Points begin for contest dancing start at 1 p.m. Friday while points for drums begin accumulating at 7 p.m. All the usual amenities, such as showers, rations, firewood and tipi payouts, will be part of the Celebration.
Last year there were 22 concession stands, and they've all committed to returning this year, so it promises to be a big event. While many features are familiar to those coming to HBSC, this year includes a new contest. Called the "Tight Wranglers Contest in Honor of Jude Old Crow," it's a beauty contest for men dressed in - you guessed it - tight Wrangler jeans. The top vote getter must find some way to stuff $1,000 into those pants.
Some of the other events include the James Running Crane Memorial Softball Tournament, beginning Friday; the HBSC Parade on Saturday; the Willie and Helen Running Crane Memorial Breakfast Sunday morning; and the traditional Crazy Dogs versus Blackfeet Veterans stick game tournament Sunday evening.
The biggest sponsors of the Celebration are the Heart Butte community and the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, said Cooper, and all the money raised through concession fees goes right into the tribal coffers. "We're proud because Finance regularly inspects us for accountability," he said.