NEA National Heritage Fellowship Tribute Video: Grant Bulltail

NEA National Heritage Fellowship Tribute Video: Grant Bulltail

I am Grant Bulltail from Hardin Montana. I am an NEA National Heritage Fellow. (Crow Language) Stories have always been a part of the Crow
Tribe. It’s a way of making people realize how
we should live. Stories were really important in the old days. After the buffalo were gone, we had to live
another way of life. And when we did that all the old stories were
left behind. They didn’t tell those stories anymore. But a few people still believed. Like the Chief here – Chief Plenty Coups
and my grandfather, Comes Up Red, and my grandmother’s cousin, Yellow Brow, they still told those
stories. And still lived a way of life that they did
when the buffalo where here. They used the energy in nature – whatever
they did. So, Grant has these stories – battle stories
– and has them in great detail. But he also has other stories – Coyote stories,
that are designed to teach young people some of the lessons of life. And dinosaur stories. Stories about how the Crow learned to kill
dinosaurs. Even dinosaur lullabies. A surprising range of stories that are really
rich in detail and give us unusual and surprising insights into a way of life that has long
since passed. At the time that Plenty Coups was born, we
were subjected to a many people coming into our land – trying to take away our land. And this land is our way of life. Our religion. Our culture. So, when they came, we fought hard to try
to keep it. When Plenty Coups was about eleven years old,
his brother was killed. So, he went and fasted. Fasted on the Crazy Mountains. And there he was given many gifts. Energy. Power. From the eagle and from the holders of the
earth. What people call the ‘little people’. And also, he was given the gift of being a
leader. And they took him to the moon, and powerful
forces up there gave him these gifts. When they gave him the gift, he used it, he
used it to keep our land. He was the one that people looked up to, because
they knew that he was a powerful, mystical person. And a lot of these stories are stories that
we as outsiders would consider to be mythological or legendary. But for the Crow, they are literally true. Our stories are gone. Nobody is telling our stories anymore. And our stories are a way of people participating
in nature. And surviving in nature. And helping each other. Bringing morality to our people. Grant is one of our elders now and he’s
one of the storytellers. And when people like him, like the elders
come to our school or come to all the different schools on the reservation That would make
them feel proud . … of their heritage, as well as growing . . . wanting to be . . native. There has been a mandate for five hundred
years to keep the Native Americans from telling their stories. Because they spoke a different language and
dressed differently and had a different culture. But now they realize that we have things to
offer; like knowledge of nature, knowledge of the earth. And now they’re … people are trying to
find out about these things. But because they kept us silent for a long
time, we have lost a lot of this wisdom and knowledge. And now, whatever we have left, the Native
Americans can tell our side of the story. Like I’m telling now. Being a National Heritage Fellow will allow
me to tell more stories . . . to write down some of my stories. And I’m so very grateful that they picked
me for a National Heritage Fellow.

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