Monthly Archives: March 2013

Powwows Throughout the Years

My introduction to powwows was North American Indian Days in Browning, Montana in the 1970’s. At the twenty-first annual event in 1972, my father, Dan Antonietti, was adopted into the Blackfeet tribe and named an honorary chief. That was, and still is, a big deal.

My Dad worked for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Manpower Administration. In his role as Project Officer for the Bureau of Work Training Programs, he was instrumental in securing monies and programs for the Blackfeet people. To honor and thank him for bringing Neighborhood Youth Corps and Operation Mainstream to Browning, Pete Stabs by Mistake named my father A-pi-na-ko Si-pis-to (“Morning Owl”) in a touching ceremony nearly forty-one years ago.

A Southern-Piegan Indian named Na-to-si (“Sun”) was awakened one morning at dawn by the hooting of an owl. After he fell back to sleep, the owl came to Na-to-si in his dreams and told him to give the name “Morning Owl” to someone he loved. When Na-to-si awoke, he remembered his dream. He called to his adopted son and said, “From now on, your name will be A-pi-na-ko Si-pis-to.”

My dad, Chief Morning Owl, in 1972
My dad, Chief Morning Owl, in 1972
Neighborhood Youth Corps float, North American Indian Days, 1972
Neighborhood Youth Corps float, North American Indian Days, 1972
Julie makes a new friend, North American Indian Days, 1972
Julie makes a new friend, North American Indian Days, 1972

I have attended other powwows since then. In 1991, Rich and I took our boys to their first powwow. Colin wasn’t walking yet, so he and Rich watched as Eric and I moved to the rhythm of the drums and joined the “All Dance.” We modeled traditional dance steps as best we could, foregoing any attempts at fancy dancing. Had Chief Morning Owl been in Missoula to watch us that day, I think he would’ve been proud.

Karen and Eric in the "All Dance"
Karen and Eric in the “All Dance”
Eric, Colin and Rich at the 1991 Fort Missoula Powwow
Eric, Colin and Rich at the 1991 Fort Missoula Powwow
Eric and the dancers
Eric and the dancers
1991 Fort Missoula Powwow
1991 Fort Missoula Powwow

On March 9th, I went to the 12th annual Honoring Our Youth Pow Wow at Big Sky High School.

Grand entry at Honoring Our Youth Pow Wow, 2013
Grand entry at Honoring Our Youth Pow Wow, 2013
Honoring Our Youth Pow Wow
A four-year-old dancer
Honoring Our Youth Pow Wow, 2013
Fancy and traditional dancers at Honoring Our Youth Pow Wow, 2013

I thought about Chief Morning Owl as I watched the dancers and listened to the drummers. In 1979, Dad’s work changed when he moved to the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. As I sat in the Big Sky gymnasium that afternoon, Mom and Dad were nearing the end of a trip to Washington D.C. The previous week, Dad had attended the National Legislative Service Committee meetings as Montana’s legislative chairman for the VFW. Eighty-five years old, he’s still championing for the rights of others.

Our Introduction to the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

The 10th Annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival was held February 15th-24th in Missoula, Montana. For the fourth year running, my husband, Rich, and I were fortunate to partake in many of the Festival’s films.

Our introduction to the BSDFF was in 2009. That year, our brother-in-law Lance’s friend, Kimberly Reed, directed and starred in one of the feature films, Prodigal Sons. Missoula Independent’s Nick Davis wrote, “In a story that would push the limits of even the most madly creative of fiction writers, this reality show just keeps getting better.”

He was right. In addition to Reed’s thought-provoking film—about identity, family, and relationships—we were treated to a lively Q & A with her following the movie.

Rich and I left the theater that evening asking each other how we had overlooked the Festival the previous five years. We left, too, wanting to see more. There were 143 films that year and though we did see more in the following days, we barely skimmed the surface.

Since 2010, we’ve purchased all-screening passes for the Festival. We have friends who’ve joined us as well, and collectively we’ve applauded, laughed, cried, and discussed a variety of the subjects and people we’ve watched on the big screen. We are better stewards of the earth because of the BSDFF.  We’re more conscientious about our use of water and electricity. We bought reusable produce bags and a composter which have decreased our use of plastics and reduced the amount of garbage we generate. And we recycle everything we can.

Seven people attended the first film of the inaugural BSDFF ten years ago. The numbers have multiplied since then.

This year, the winner of the Best Feature Documentary was Blood Brother, a poignant story about Rocky Braat and his journey to care for HIV-positive orphans in India. Our efforts to be more mindful of how we live pale compared to the difference Rocky Anna, as the children call him, is making in the lives of the children he serves.

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, now heading into its eleventh year, is held each February in Missoula. Filmmakers from across the country and around the globe grace our city with their presence and their films. Keep an eye out for the 2014 dates and mark your calendars. The BSDFF is a treat beyond measure.