Heart Butte Society Celebration | Heart Butte, Montana ***2020 POSTPONED- new dates TBA***
Ages Festival is Appropriate For
This annual four-day celebration takes place the second week in August and is 26 miles south of Browning in the community of Heart Butte, which is located on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Heart Butte is one of the oldest traditional communities of the Blackfeet Reservation. More than 60 houses are clustered around the old subagency, established about 1915. It is now the site of a senior citizen's center, a health clinic and a Head Start program.
Many residents remain on the original allotments of their ancestors in the surrounding area. The community is justly proud of its new school, built partially underground and located south of the town. Towering above, to the west, is the mountain known to the Blackfeet as Moskitsipahpi-istuki, Heart Butte.
Getting to Heart Butte by road from MT (Montana) 89 entails either taking BIA Route 1 south out of Browning or turning off of MT (Montana) 89 onto Badger Creek Road or turning onto Birch Creek Road. The closest Interstates are I-90 running east-west through the southern part of Montana and I-15 running north-south 70 miles east of Browning.
Glacier Park International Airport, Kalispell, is 100 miles to the west of Browning on Highway 2. Services include Big Sky Airlines, Delta Airlines, Horizon Airlines, Northwest Airlines and Holman Aviation (private charters).
Great Falls International Airport is 125 miles to the southeast of Browning on Interstate 15. Great Falls International Airport is serviced by Big Sky Airlines, Delta Airlines, Horizon Airlines and Northwest Airlines.
Tipis and wall tents are erected on the powwow grounds (locals refer to it as the "camp grounds" but calling it a "fair" or the "fair-grounds" can be offensive), for four days of contest dancing, games, a number of sports events and socializing.
A couple of notes about attending the Powwow - Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend the honor and contest dancing. In fact, there's always an "inter-tribal" dance, and it's a time for everyone to mingle and say hi. The contestants and other dancers wear regalia or traditional dress, not costumes. Costumes are for Halloween. The clothes worn by dancers are hand made, often passed down and at a minimum painstakingly crafted with some of the finest detail and materials of any garments produced in the world. Hundreds of hours or more go into the crafting of the traditional regalia.
There's much that can be discussed about proper etiquette, and many have their own ideas, but in general it is recommended that you observe and respect the honor songs; men and women should both stand, men remove your hats (except the very elderly) and stop talking. At the opening of the powwow, called the grand entry, a flag song is sung, during such time spectators should pay their respects to the colors just as they would at any event held in the United States or Canada. It is best to not take photos during honor or prayer songs, but instead observe and honor the signing.
The dancing is meant to be healthy and fun. Please enjoy it and if you’re ever in doubt, just look around and do as others are doing. If you see people removing their hats or standing up, just follow their lead and you'll have a very enjoyable time!
There is no cost to park or enter the Celebration Grounds. There is a fee for photographing and videotaping within the dance arbor.