Autumn,

Blackfeet Nation

“Education is the answer for us, and nobody can take away our knowledge.”

Single mom and recent Northwest Indian College graduate, Autumn feels blessed that scholarships from the College Fund gave her the ability to focus on school and support her family while she attended classes without having to take multiple jobs. A survivor of alcoholism, Autumn understands just how precious her second lease on life is for her and her children.

Through her faith and sheer will she was able to rise above her circumstances. She gives credit to her creator for showing her the way forward. “Running challenges and invigorates me. The fresh air, being surrounded by nature—it helps me connect to our collective past. It reminds me of our ancestors and their mantra of doing good.”

Mental health and well-being aren’t just personal goals for Autumn, they inform the work she’s embarking on to help heal Indian Country. Her bachelor’s degree in business management and tribal governance helped Autumn come up with a business plan for Native Tough, a prevention and relapse-prevention center. She’s currently working on her master’s degree in indigenous education to create a curriculum that all tribes can share as they implement similar programs across the nation. “One thing I would like everyone to know about Native American students is, we are resilient and although we face a lot of struggles in our own lives, we still find ways to pick ourselves up and pursue what we set out to do.”

Blackfeet Berry Soup & Bannock Bread

Recipe

Blackfeet Berry Soup & Bannock Bread

Student:
Autumn

My family comes from the Blackfeet Nation, from a rural area called Two Medicine. It’s where the buffalo roamed and our people lived richly off the land. Berries were one of the most commonly gathered food and buffalo was one of the main proteins used in recipes. One of the recipes passed down from my ancestors was berry soup, made from sarvis berries, and bannock bread. While it’s been in my family for generations, this recipe was first shared with me when I went to Montana to pick berries along the same river as my mom and grandmother.

Ingredients

Sarvis Berry Soup

  • 6 cups Sarvis berries
  • 2 cups bison or deer broth
  • ½ cup pemmican (dry meat)
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1 cup sugar (leave out for sugar-free soup)

Bannock Bread

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 sp baking soda per cup of flour
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • ½ tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of oil

Instructions

Sarvis Berry Soup

Clean the berries in cold water, let boil with broth, stirring berries regularly so they don’t burn. Turn the heat to medium to simmer, add sugar, take off the heat and smash berries until smooth. Put the mixture back on the stove and bring to a boil. In a separate bowl, combine ½ cup of water and 1 tbsp of flour. Stir until smooth and add the mixture to the berries. The combined mixture will be thick. Finally, add the pemmican, and turn the heat to medium/low.

Bannock Bread

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together and add warm water until all the dry flour is wet. Knead together. Grease a cake pan with oil and put the bannock bread ingredients on it and cook in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Check the center with a toothpick. If toothpick is dry, remove the bread from the oven, smear the top with butter and serve with the soup.

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell

Book

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell

Student:
Autumn

I stumbled upon Island of the Blue Dolphins at the library one day in fourth grade. It hadn’t been that long since we moved off the reservation and away from other Native children like me, which was hard. This book really hit home with me, because the main character was so much like me—lost in an unfamiliar world. It was filled with so much emotion and adventure, but it was also about survival and never giving up. As the years went by, I never forgot about it and today I’ve even shared it with my children.

Art: Miniature Dolls by Frank Rides At The Door

Arts & Entertainment

Art: Miniature Dolls by Frank Rides At The Door

Student:
Autumn

Frank Rides At The Door is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation and he’s also my uncle. He started making traditional miniatures as a tribute to our people, and his grandmother, Annie Rides At The Door, was also an artist. Frank’s inspiration came from a childhood filled with traditional crafts and stories shared by his own grandmother and other elders of the tribe.

Frank interprets Blackfeet oral history through his miniature dolls. Fancy dancers, chiefs, medicine men, jingle dancers, and more are put on a small base of cut antler and rocks, measuring about 2-4 inches in height. Frank also creates miniature rattles, pipes, painted animal skulls, drums, spears, and clubs. He prepares and collects all of his own raw materials, using animal hides given to him by friends and family.

Pikuni Drums

Native Owned Business

Pikuni Drums

Student:
Autumn

Pikuni Drums is a new upcoming business that provides custom powwow and hand drums for contemporary and old-style drum groups. They specialize in authentic handcrafted drums from the Blackfeet Nation. The creator, Zach Lamebear, is a young entrepreneur from the Blackfeet Nation. He is also my cousin and I am very proud to give a shout-out to all of his hard work and dedication of learning the art of drum making.

“I was born and raised on the Blackfeet reservation in Browning, Montana. I was taught how to make a hand drum in 7th grade and started to powwow sing about 5 years ago, (even though I have been around it all my life), I made my first hand-scraped powwow drum 2 years later with the help of my grandpa. A year after that in 2012, I had a bad deal with another drum maker. The drum that I paid top dollar for had torn and he refused to fix it. I thought that I could make a better drum. I took my challenge and since then taught myself how to make contemporary drum frames and also how to do the hide work. Although I come from a lineage of drum makers, everything I do is self-taught, from skinning the hide off the animal to scraping it and turning it into raw hide, the drum making stopped at my Father and it was up to me to keep it alive!” (Zach Lamebear).

https://www.facebook.com/PIKUNIDRUMS/

Dr. Monica Carrillo

Native & Non-Native Leader

Dr. Monica Carrillo

Student:
Autumn

Monica is a doctor for the Swinomish Tribe at their Indian Health Clinic, and she is also my physician. I met her when I was in very bad shape, at the start of my recovery, just after my liver failed. She saw something in me that I didn’t even see myself and she helped me tremendously during those first few months. Eight months into my recovery, I started running to help with my depression and other existing health issues. I told Monica during one of my appointments and that day she changed my life when she asked me to run the New York City Marathon with her. I accepted and we trained like there was no tomorrow for this amazing adventure. During training, Monica mentioned how she ran throughout med school. It wasn’t long after that that I committed to getting my bachelor’s at Northwest Indian College. She was so right about running pairing up nicely with school. Now I’m at Arizona State University going for my master’s of indigenous education and I also celebrated 4 years of sobriety at the end of July. Monica truly helped me on my journey. She took me in with open arms, gave me the courage to put myself out there, and helped me find my passion in running. I firmly believe she was sent into my life for a reason.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Social Issue

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Student:
Autumn

Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women

  • 4 out of 5 Native women are affected by violence every day. –Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women
  • American Indian women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average. –U.S. Justice Dept.
  • Homicide is the fifth-leading cause of death for Native women 25-34 years of age. –Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

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