August 18-21 I spent time in the Billings, Montana area. I attended the great Crow Fair, where 30-50,000 Native Americans celebrate with one of the largest powwows, including all indian rodeo, parade and many other great events. At the Crow Fair, I was blessed to get to connect with Pastor Ken Pretty on Top and his sons at a interfaith church service held at the camp arbor. Pastor Ken is having great success at Crow Agency and has been holding this service at the Crow Fair for about 25 years. He is a tender and powerful leader.
The next couple of days I spent with Pastor Josh Charette, Jerry Goins and Billy Johnson, visiting two programs that serve Natives battling with alcohol and other issues. The first one was held at Montana Rescue Mission, where pastor Josh helps to lead a men's meeting that clearly is meeting a vital need for urban indians in Billings. The next day we visited New Day Ranch, where we met a number of teenagers, and participated with them in the morning at their therapeutic drum group.
This was especially wonderful, as we were led in traditional Northern and even Southern drum songs that carry great weight in Native traditions such as Blackfoot and others. It continues to be clear that there are very few long term care facilities for Natives with intellectual disabilities, however. The trip was fruitful and attended with wonderful hospitality. Montana is always beautiful.