Native American Doings

Thursday past was a delightful day. the weather was warm, in the mid-70’s… then it started snowing sometime during the night. We awoke to a light blanket of sloppy wet snow and snowflakes the size of half-dollars.

Our plans were to attend a Native American Camp Meeting in Frazer, MT this weekend. It would also serve as a shakedown cruise of the coach after being in storage all Winter. We finished packing in the snow and prayed for clear roads and pulled out about 10 AM. The pass going to Livingston was reasonably clear with the snow plows doing their thing. By the time we got to Livingston there was nearly no snow. The farther east we got, the better were the driving conditions. At Big Timber we turned north until we crossed the Missouri Breaks, then headed more westerly.

Arriving in Fraser about 6:30 PM we began looking for a gather of people at a civic center. With a population of about 450 souls it should be pretty easy… right? What we found was a big blue metal building with a sign reading

“Tribal Elders

Nutritional Center”

About 10-15 cars were parked around the building. I stuck my head in the door and asked a lady if this was the Camp Meeting. She replied to the affirmative, so we “set up camp” in the parking lot.

It has rained lightly most of the night. This morning the Meadow Larks or Robins were singing early. It didn’t appear to be raining, but when I returned from walking Jolie I was wet.

As I have been sitting here writing this, there have been groups of kids running around, playing in the mud and small lake that has formed in one corner of the lot. Kids are kids… no matter their race.

Even a town as small as this one experiences “Urban Sprawl.” One can look around and see how the early dwellers were clustered around a close area. Then as the houses were rotted or burned to oblivion, new homes were built farther from the center, forming  new urban area, leaving a rotten core behind. That’s not so different from big cities.

A quick perusal of the cemetery this morning was an eye-opener. The majority of family names was Jackson and the oldest stone was dated 1907. I am told that many early natives took the last name of  the President that put them on the reservation. This was confirmed later in the day by locating the headstone of one, Stonewall Jackson.The population of the cemetery is about the same as the town.