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Native American band from Montana brings a lot of local culture to Montana Folk Festival

Posted at 9:10 AM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 11:10:20-04

BUTTE — The Folk Festival wraps up Sunday, here in Butte, and music from a wide range of genres is being represented.

And one group that is catching a lot of attention was the Native American music of the Assiniboine Cree.

“We've always been a family group since we was knee-high. Our late dad, he gave us this way. To us indigenous people song is a real big thing,” said Jason Belcourt with the Assiniboine Cree Singers.

Hailing from the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy reservations, the Assiniboine Cree are a family-based group heading into their fifth generation of preserving their tribe's musical heritage.

For Jason and his relatives, music is more than art. It's sacred.

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Hailing from the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy reservations, the Assiniboine Cree are a family-based group heading into their fifth generation of preserving their tribe's musical heritage.

“It's almost like a key it opens in ceremony and prayer and even social dance. This way of life this music its always been instilled in us from the time we was little. We've always been a big family group comprised of our late dad Charlie and his brothers and their children and then on to us. Even now we have grandchildren, great grandchildren, taking over this family group,” said Belcourt.

For the Assiniboine Cree, there's a song and chant for just about every occasion.

“So whether you're in prayer or whether you're in the sweat or ceremony or even just singing a love song to your missus, it opens doors for you,” he said.

The song that the Assiniboine Cree performed with booming drums and soaring vocals was the music that would be performed at a tribal social gathering.

“I'm too young to be talking about the ceremonial side so we chose to come out here and share our social dance. Social dances we commonly know today as pow wow. There's pow wows already. That's relatively new to us probably about 100 years old that pow wow way of life,” said Belcourt.

Over the weekend, this group hopes to introduce the crowd to many forms of Native American music.

“We hope to be showcasing some of those tribal dances, the tribal dances, the jingle dress dances, sneak-ups, various forms of dance. We hope to get the crowd involved as well and maybe do a round dance or two,” said Belcourt.

This is the Assiniboine Cree's first trip to the Montana Folk Festival and it's shaping up to be a memorable experience.

“We're very excited to be here,” Belcourt said. “It's amazing. There's a lot of electric feeling here. There's a good vibe here.”