Harlem, MT 2015

Discover Fort Belknap – Grass Dance

If you offer tobacco, dry goods, and a pipe to the right person, you may obtain rare information on a traditional Native American dance. Discover Fort Belknap used MHF funds to focus on researching, collecting and recording oral histories of the songs and ceremonies associated with the Grass Dance Society. The Gros-Ventre began practicing the Grass Dance between 1875 and 1880, but as time passed, the dance slowly changed and eventually disappeared. Pow Wows use a small remnant of the Grass Dance today, but many Pow Wow community members are unaware of the dance’s influence.

Discover Fort Belknap visited elders of the Cree tribe on the Rocky Boy Indian reservation and offered them tobacco and goods—a Native American custom. While they smoked tobacco with their hosts, elders regaled them with stories and information about the traditional Grass Dance. This important project rekindled the cultural values the dance represents: respect, honor, love and helping neighbors in times of need.