Volunteer on Blackfeet Reservation in Montana

Video and Photos

Superb scenery
Superb scenery
Blackfeet Reservation
Blackfeet Reservation
Rainbow after the rain
Rainbow after the rain
Serving meals as part of North American Indian Days.
Helping to build tipis with community members.
Our 2015 team of 15 pharmacy students, 1 faculty member, and 1 high school student.
Support children
Support children
Support the Blackfeet people
Support the Blackfeet people

About

In the high plains just east of Glacier National Park, live members of the Blackfeet Nation, Montana’s most populous Indian tribe with more than 15,500 enrolled members. Join Global Volunteers for one week in helping and understanding the Blackfeet culture as a volunteer. Your help is wanted to improve educational, recreational, and social aspects of life on the Blackfeet reservation.

Possible volunteer work projects include:
• Building and fixing playgrounds
• Landscaping public areas
• Organizing a library
• Assisting at a nursing home and offering companionship to elderly
• Painting classrooms

Opportunities for working in professional areas are also available. Volunteers of any background are encouraged to share their skills. This program is great for families volunteering together. (The minimum age is 8.) We appreciate your interest in volunteering to improve conditions for Native Americans at the Blackfeet Reservation with Global Volunteers!

Highlights
  • Learn about Blackfeet culture.
  • Work with Blackfeet people to support people in the community who need it most.
  • All logistics in Montana arranged by our staff, so you can focus on volunteering.
  • Global Volunteers' policy: safety trumps everything. Volunteers are well taken care of by their Team Leader while on a service program.
  • Enjoy gorgeous Montana landscapes.

Impact

Global Volunteers’ development partnership in Montana’s Indian country began in 1999, when the Blackfeet Tribal Early Childhood Center in Browning invited Global Volunteers to help build a cultural park designed for family recreation. Since this first team cemented our commitment to working with Native American nations, volunteers have returned to the Blackfeet Reservation every summer, and like the changing seasons, they represent a new opportunity for growth within our relationships. In addition to building mutual respect, Global Volunteers teams working with local people have helped landscape public buildings; have built picnic tables, fences, and outdoor recreation areas; and have collaborated with community leaders on services to primary and middle school students, Girl Scouts, nursing home residents, community college students, mental health program recipients, addiction treatment center clients, children in a crisis center, veterans, and participants in the Blackfeet Nation’s many summer cultural events. We work with Blackfeet Manpower, a social service organization which provides individuals and families in need with resources such as childcare, job readiness training, GED courses, and employment opportunities.

Questions & Answers

Our lodging for volunteers is right on the reservation. Volunteers lodge with their teammates in safe and comfortable dormitory-style, adjoined rooms divided by gender. Bathrooms with showers are designated for men and women. Small private rooms may sometimes be available for families with young children.

Hi, Debra! While Global Volunteers is a non-sectarian organization, we do partner with some religious organizations such as the Baptist Church in Ciego de Ávila, Cuba and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ipalamwa, Tanzania. In Havana, Cuba we partner with the Cuban Council of Churches and serve two senior centers for the elderly. Can we send you more information on any of our programs?

Hi Vicki, Global Volunteers offers just short-term volunteer opportunities, 1 - 3 weeks. Comfortable and safe lodging is included as part of the tax-deductible service program contribution. Feel free to call (800) 487-1074 or email@globalvolunteers.org if you have additional questions!

Yes, there are 1 week and 2 week programs. :)

Reviews

9.73 Rating
based on 11 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 8 of 11
Default avatar
Christine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cultural Experience

My husband and I decided to volunteer on Blackfeet Reservation as a way to learn more about the native american culture, and possibly to give back to a community that we really knew very little about. At the end of each day we were to ask ourselves; did we learn, did we serve and did we grow? We spent an amazing week; starting out getting to know each other (11 of us), and attending a Catholic church service (this was optional), with the highlight being a local Blackfeet singer who had an amazing voice; our first cultural experience! Our next experience came from a local historian, again another Blackfeet, who shared a wealth of Blackfeet knowledge and gave us a tour of the Reservation within Glacier National Park. Certainly a great day for learning! We all shared in the first two days of this adventure! However, the next four days would bring different learning experiences to each of us. I spent time with patients at a nursing home, listening to their stories. The next day I went to a thrift shop to help organize clothing and jewelry so that shoppers could purchase inexpensive items. I also went to the Senior Center in town where meals were made and served to seniors who live at the center and meals were prepared to be delivered out in the community (meals on wheels). I had the opportunity to go out in the community to help with the delivery of meals and see how some of the Blackfeet people live. I went to the Food Distribution Center to help stock shelves. We helped others in the community with projects that they needed done. Some of us stayed at one location all four days, others (like myself) moved around. We got to attend a sweat lodge, to connect one-on-end with Blackfeet people over lunch at the Senior Center, and to participate in a purifying smudge and prayer ceremony which was done by a Blackfeet who was praying in his native tongue throughout the ceremony. We also got to participate in a celebration of dance put on by a Blackfeet. This was a totally amazing experience. So did we learn, did we serve and did we grow? My answer to this is most definitely. I feel that I was given so much more from this experience than what I gave.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Go with an open mind, immerse yourself into the Blackfeet Culture,and listen (really listen) to their stories.
Default avatar
Kathleen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A week of discovery!

I went on my first Global Volunteer trip this year to the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. I have Loved Montana for as long as I can remember. This was at least my fourth time there albeit a different location each time. I chose Global Volunteers due to the recommendation of a colleague who had gone elsewhere. She had nothing but praise for the organization and now I know why.
I have no problem travelling alone and I was excited to meet new people and to provide service to others again. Our team leader was very friendly, knowledgeable and flexible. He reiterated that we would only work in capacities and areas in which we had been invited by the local community. What I found was we were welcomed with open arms due to the strong reputation of the "Globals"! The people welcomed our labor but also eagerly engaged with us as newfound friends! We readily shared information about our families and culture. We got to experience immersion into the community as no tourist could! We were invited into homes and allowed to experience Indian traditions such as a sweat lodge, ranching and native dance.
Our work varied, but some of us went to the local nursing home to interact with and get to know some residents where some beautiful stories of early lives were shared with the volunteers. Other volunteers assisted in delivering meals to local residents and helping refill shelves at the food pantry. A few people helped repair fences and dug post holes, a very laborious task in this Montana soil! One afternoon I helped serve lunch to children at a private school and also assisted in organizing the Thrift Store.
I always felt safe and the accommodations were fine. The food was very good and we were always asked for input from our team leader regarding work projects and supper plans. I really enjoyed our team morning meetings and sharing our experiences. This team seemed like a good fit as we all were of the mind to serve others and keep an open mind to a new culture, along with learning about each other in the group. I'm not sure where I'll go next but I've already been reading about the Global Volunteers’ other sites. I have no hesitation about working with this organization again.

What would you improve about this program?
I'm not sure if there is anything that I could change about this program.
Default avatar
Gabe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience

I spent a week in the blackfeet reservation in Montana near Glacier National Park and it was an incredible experience. The team leader was very prepared and everything ran very smoothly. I could also really tell that we made an impact on the community. We did all kinds of different volunteering on the reservation, we did labor projects, served meals, hung out with children and more. We also were able to spend time with the community and really immersed ourselves in the community. Not only would I go back to Montana but I'd love to try out other programs that global volunteers offers.

I loved spending time with the resort of the volunteers that we're all ages and came from all different walks of life, but we all came together to make a difference in Montana.

Default avatar
Lindsey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Second Family

I have volunteered with Global Volunteers on the Blackfeet Reservation two summers in a row now. The people there are welcoming and warm and many have become like family to me. The program itself has been around for a long time, and all of our partners on the reservation are happy to see the volunteers come every year.

Driving around in the big Global Volunteers Van you begin to feel a bit like a celebrity because people are always asking you if you are one of the "Globals" and telling you about a new work project that the team can do. There is no shortage of work on the Reservation, but there is definitely a related culture shock for many volunteers.

As other reviewers have mentioned, the pace of life there is very different, especially if you are someone who is punctual, and rigid about order and control. Work projects may fluctuate day to day, based on this pace and the availability of materials and local people. You may find yourself doing a few different work projects but that affords the ability to meet more people, and create more relationships which is really the whole goal. The work projects are there, not only to get things done, but to facilitate cross-cultural understanding and create relationships with people.

I highly recommend this program for just about anyone. The people are amazing, the scenery can't be beat, and the flexibility of the work projects assures that your skills will be put to use. Oh, and did I mention Indian Tacos?! Delish! (PS- Indian is not a derogatory term on this particular reservation and they are indeed called Indian Tacos).

Default avatar
Suh Ning
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Immersion in Native American Culture and Celebration

This is my first trip to US and volunteering in Blackfeet Native Americans Reservation enabled me to get to know more about the culture and history of America. During my one week volunteering, I helped out in the Great Flood Memorial on 8 Jun. I also helped to bring the Blackfeet Care Center Residents to the Glacier Peak Casino's Mortgage Burning celebration on 11 June 2015, where everyone gets a $20 voucher to play in the casino and a grand funfair with free food and games outside the casino.

During my stay in Blackfeet Reservation, I went to a sweat lodge, where Native Americans practise their unique tradition of praying. I had an unforgettable experience hearing the stories of what the people came to pray for and I personally went through the full ritual of heat, sweat and pitch darkness.

These are the some of the many unique experiences that will be the highlights of my story on my first trip to USA!

Default avatar
Mindy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing and eye-opening cultural experience.

I've titled this review "eye-opening" for many reasons, but it mostly boils down to one point: I felt like my eyes had been "closed" for a while, and while in Montana with Global Volunteers, I finally opened them up, looked around, and took it all in. Culturally, this trip is amazing. The relationship that Global Volunteers has with the community is excellent, and it allows for trip members to feel like a part of the community. I learned more about Blackfeet and American Indian culture in one week than any novel, textbook or documentary could ever teach. The trip also opened my eyes to the need on the reservation -- a need that my team could help address. And finally, the landscape is breathtaking. To take time away from computers, phones, and my busy lifestyle, I was able to open my eyes to the pristine beauty of "Big Sky Country." I definitely recommend this trip to anyone looking for a new experience. Yes, you need to be open-minded and a bit flexible, but if you can manage that, the experience is well worth it.

What would you improve about this program?
The program can seem disorganized at times. I know a lot of this has to do with being on the reservation. What I would suggest is just making sure that all the volunteers know this ahead of time-- prepare them to be flexible and "go with the flow".
Default avatar
Sherry
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Blackfeet Wisdom

Our family visited the Blackfeet Reservation with GV in 2010. The beauty and wisdom of that culture has remained with us ever since. I have often still referred to things I learned and experienced there.

Our appreciation for creation grew from witnessing the respect and honor demonstrated by the BF People. It was an honor to be permitted to experience their world first hand.

This experience also shattered many stereotypes that we have been exposed to living in a white dominated society.
We are so grateful to have participated in this volunteer experience and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to gain an appreciation for another culture. The direct participation in and with BF People's daily lives and practices was a unique opportunity.

Default avatar
Noa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Eye Opening Father-Daughter Project

My dad and I went on this as part of my bat mitzvah service project. Even though I was the youngest person on the trip (12 at the time), it was a very interesting project. It was also a lot of work. Perhaps the most thing I did was the two days I went around delivering lunches to people who could not leave their homes. We also met one women who showed us pictures about the Blackfeet religious ceremony held to ensure that her son in the US military stayed safe. It was a very interesting experience.