Blackfeet Firewomen

woman in fire
(quicktime movie 3.7 MB)

In 1994 I made a 30 minute radio program about Blackfeet Women who fight Forest Fires which aired on Public Radio's Horizons.

(quicktime movie 2.9 MB)

I also made a 2 minute video.

Five or six years earlier I had read in the paper about Native American women fighting forest fires. The information stayed in my head and I mentioned it to Christine Pierce a friend of mine from Montana. She said she knew some Indian women who worked as forest fire-fighters and could introduce me ...

On the way to the the Blackfeet reservation in Browning, Montana, we stopped to get gas. The woman running the cash register and a state trooper standing nearby looked very doubtful when we mentioned our destination. They didn't like to say anything but .... two women driving into Browning at night, could get dangerous.....

Later in Browning at the fire-fighting training camp we attended , one of the young trainees asked where I was from and I said Brooklyn. All the young people around looked doubtful, wasn't it very dangerous living there? Then one of the said, "I bet people say that about us. Don't they say it's dangerous coming here?" And I was embarrassed.

Unemployment runs very high on the Blackfeet reservation. Fire- fighting is a seasonal job. These workers are only paid when hired out to a fire. The Blackfeet fire-fighting crews, which are made up of twenty fire-fighters, fight fires all over the West, from California to Oregon.