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The photographs following show the First Peoples Buffalo Jump in Ulm, Montana. We flew in three sessions that weekend and had people from all over the globe watching the children fly their just- made bird kites. Sharon Musto and Bud Taylor came down from Canada to help fly. Our newest artist, Seidel Standing Elk, came for the inaugural flight his kite and we got some great shots of Seidel and his lady.
The First People’s management were gracious enough to provide accommodations for us. We were able to stay in a 100 year old converted convent that had the original rooms fairly intact.
As beautiful as the kites are in the sky, they are equally beautiful put together in the classroom with thirty 5th graders gathered around, looking closely at the art and examining the sewing, the fittings, and the frame. STEM subjects are the core of kite building. Combining Native American art and buffalo jumps with kite-based STEM education captivates young minds and empowers them to know they can stretch out into the sky and participate with the world in new ways. Kites teach children how to follow instructions and innovate and the joy of flying a well balanced, hand made kite draws out even the most reserved teenager.
We shared the joy of kite building and flying with about 700 children this year! The larger number is because of a grant from the Harry L. Willett Foundation. All Native American children received free kite kits because of Ryan Willett’s generosity. Thank you Ryan!
In Montana, we visited Lame Deer, Lodge Grass, Hardin, Crow Agency and Browning this year and will visit Chief Plenty Coup’s home this next weekend. The Piikani people in Canada were delightful, and we flew forty kites among the largest gopher holes I’ve ever seen.
The art that we make into kites, the paintings that tell the stories about the buffalo jump cultures, are such a source of beauty. Allen Know His Gun‘s “Buffalo Tracker” was stunning as it flew above the Vore Buffalo Jump in Beulah, Wyoming. Dolores Purdy’s canvas “Honoring the Ancestors” was our first casualty, with a spar going through the tipi. It repaired almost perfectly. Angela Babby‘s “Resurrection” flew beautifully at the Madison Buffalo Jump, as did Frank Finley’s “Buffalo Calf Spirit”. Rabbit Knows Gun and Wendy Red Star‘s painting “Historic Buffalo Lodge” always shines so brightly in the sky, drawing all eyes. And DG House‘s painting “When I Grow Up, I Want to be a War Pony” flew perfectly until it didn’t, coming down on the brush arbor at the First Peoples.
Alaina Buffalo Spirit painted “Strong Cheyenne Woman” and the kite looks like a feminine spirit fluttering across the prairie when it flies. Photos of it at the Madison and at the Head Smashed In are included. And Jaune Quick To See Smith and Neal Ambrose Smith made “Big Medicine” and we got the historic white buffalo into the air at each location this year.
It was a special honor to show Jon Cadotte‘s kite “Blackfoot Buffalo” to Chief Earl Old Person in his office at Blackfeet Tribal Headquarters in Browning. He spoke about often seeing kites above the reservation fifty or sixty years ago and thought it would be good for them to return.
We’ve been really busy with lots of activities. More detail is coming soon, but in the meantime check out lots of new photos of what we’ve been up to! Find them here!
Join us at First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park for a Montana State Parks Buffalo Kite Festival. Terry Zee Lee has worked with Native American artists from around the United States to develop buffalo-themed kites. Come view these beautiful kites and watch as the kites take flight from the top of the buffalo jump – (wind permitting).
Kite kits this year are free to build thanks to a grant secured by Terry. The kits will be available first come first served.
The Buffalo Kite Festival at First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park is part of a traveling kite exhibit shown at various locations in Montana and Canada in association with the Buffalo Kite Project. The festival features original designs created by Native artists, including Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Flathead Salish); Angela Babby (Oglala Lakota); Allen Knows His Gun (Crow) – to name just a few. Illustrated with bison images, kites will be flown at the Upper Visitor Area atop the buffalo jump, where Native people once used the landscape to hunt buffalo for food, clothing, shelter, tools, and so much more.
In addition to the flight of the kites, the weekend will include a brief introduction describing the project and explaining the buffalo art on the kites. The event is sure to be great fun for visitors of all ages.
When: Saturday & Sunday, July 25 and 26
Saturday – from 2pm. to 7 p.m.
Kite building 2 p.m. To 4:30 p.m. at the visitor center
Introduction 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the visitor center
Individual kite-flying 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – wind permitting
Professional kite-flying of Buffalo Kite Project kites from the top of the jump 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – wind permitting
Sunday – from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Buffalo Kite Project kites on display in park visitor center – 8 a.m. To 2 p.m.
Where: First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park – Visitor Center, 342 Ulm Vaughn Road, Ulm, MT 59485
The park is 3.5 miles north of Ulm, just off of Interstate 15 at Exit 270. First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park is one of the largest buffalo jumps in North America. The visitor center and interpretive trails tell the story of the people, the animals and the landscape of the buffalo culture. In 2014 more than 17,000 people visited this state park.
Visit Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) and enjoy camping, fishing, swimming, boating, and more – and discover some of the greatest natural and cultural treasures on earth.
This month kites will appear again at the Billings Logan Airport. “Kites Tell the Story – Clark on the Yellowstone” will feature 12 large art kites, some from the original Lewis and Clark Kite Collection and some new ones. A fabulous painting of York, by world famous sculptor Ed Hamilton, was made into a kite by Drake Smith. This kite was the addition to the collection from Louisville, Kentucky. Eight crow kites, made by Adam Grow, will be scattered throughout. Grizzly bear, two buffalo kites, Pompey’s Pillar, John Pollock’s wonderful “Crows Stealing the Buffalo Ponies”, Sacagawea and Pomp, canoeing down the Yellowstone, and more. It should be up within the next week so do go visit the airport and enjoy the new exhibit. You might try out the yummy tempura battered chicken strips at the restaurant while you are there. They are fabulous also.
The Buffalo Kites will be flying at the Vore Buffalo Jump in Sundance, Wyoming, on July 11.
Hello Everyone — We’re teaching at three reservation schools the second and third week in April and at Archeology Day at the new Four Dances Nature Park on April 25th. Plus, I flew one of Drakes nine cell kites off the Great Wall of China on April 2nd! Next month is the big rush with every Thursday/Friday booked in at schools, both reservation and public, somewhere in the state and every weekend we are participating at some spring festival. About 800 kite kits will be used up by the end of July. Drake toils away, making them in 100 kite batches.
We will be at the Madison Buffalo Jump again on June 13th, the First Peoples Buffalo Jump on July 25/ 26th, and up in Canada at the Head Smashed In on July 28/29th. We will be teaching at each location, along with flying the Flying Buffalo Project collection. The date for the Vore Buffalo Jump hasn’t been set yet.
All are welcome to join us buffalo jump kite flying. You only have to contend with snakes, gopher holes, extremes of weather and free range buffaloes! (Just kidding about the buffaloes! These are all National Historic designated historic sites managed by the state now, with the exception of the Vore, which is privately owned).
A big thank you to Ryan Willett, of the Willett Foundation, for the grant funding for the Flying Buffalo Project Tour. Their funding makes it possible for 400 reservation children to have free kite kits plus our instruction, along with covering the costs for the buffalo jump tour.