El Redondo Chapter members were treated at the January meeting to an informative and interesting presentation of their life experiences by two local Native Americans, Mary Meier and Chuck Jensen. Accompanying them and also participating was Chuck’s wife, Carla, a non-Native American. All were in Native American dress. The presentation opened with the Blessing of the Four Directions. All stood and participated. Then, a soft-spoken Mary proceeded to tell of hers and Chuck’s lives as members of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana and growing up on the large reservations. Mary spoke sadly of the tribulations suffered such as her grandmother’s children being taken away and sent to the Chemawa School for Indians–presumably by a government thinking it was better assimilating the Indians. At the special school the children and the hundreds of others were taught certain skills but lost many of those traditionally handed down by parents.
Mary discussed the requirements of being a “card carrying” Native American and the pros and cons of reservation life and non-reservation life. She spoke fondly of the euphoria she felt while walking the natural beauty of the Montana reservation. Chuck explained various aspects of his costume–types of animal bones/fur/feathers used and his love of nature and hunting. He did a brief demonstration of the native dance. Both Mary’s and Chuck’s mothers met non-Native Americans husbands-to-be (hence the surnames Jensen and Meier) while on the reservation. Soon after, the government had the Relocation Program and sent them to the cities to live and receive job training. Some didn’t like it and returned to the reservations. Chuck’s mother remains locally. Mary, Chuck and Carla provided a tasteful look at both their concerns for the plight of the Native American and their love for the spiritual aspects of their culture and memories of the vast beauty of the reservation homeland.
Photo L-R: Carla Jensen, Chuck Jensen, Mary Meier