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Adolf Hungry-Wolf’s four-part set tells story of Blackfoot Confederacy

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070521/NEWS01 /705210301/1002/NEWS17 Article published May 21, 2007 Adolf Hungry-Wolf’s
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2007
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      Article published May 21, 2007

      Adolf Hungry-Wolf’s four-part set tells story of Blackfoot Confederacy

      Tribune Projects Editor

      "What started out as a simple little book 40 years ago has grown into a
      four-volume monstrosity," chuckles the author, Adolf Hungry-Wolf.

      "The Blackfoot Papers" weighs 15 pounds and tells the story of the
      Blackfoot Confederacy in 1,500 glossy pages, including nearly 3,000
      paintings and illustrations.

      The price is hefty, too — $300 for the boxed, four-volume set or $1,000 for
      a leather-bound, limited edition volume. Volume 1 is Pikunni history and
      culture; II is ceremonial life; III is a Pikunni portfolio; and IV is
      biographies of the elders and leaders.

      Members of the tribe credit Hungry-Wolf for taking the time and effort to
      learn and preserve their history and culture.

      Darrell Norman, owner of the Lodgepole Gallery in Browning, credits
      Hungry-Wolf with saving Blackfeet ways that might have been lost.

      It took sacrifice on Hungry-Wolf's part.

      "I owe a huge debt to my printers and I'm struggling hard to get them paid
      off, after which all the profits will go to the tribe," he said before a
      speech in the Great Falls Public Library Thursday evening.

      The massive book cost $310,000 to print last year, he said, and all the
      author had was an inheritance of $64,000 from the estate of his parents.

      "But the printer believed in this project, so he took my $64,000 and told
      me to pay him the rest when I could," Hungry-Wolf said.

      So far, he's whittled the debt down to $190,000, with most of his sales
      coming from the reservations.

      Although Hungry-Wolf is not Indian, his wife Beverly is, and their children
      are enrolled members of the Blood Tribe.

      Adolf Gutohrlein (his birth name) moved from his native Switzerland to
      southern California with his parents as a child of 9. In the 1960s, he came
      to Montana, where his dancing at tribal ceremonies first caught the
      attention of Earl Old Person, chief of the Blackfeet Nation.

      "Adolf Hungry Wolf has been among our people for a long time now and has
      learned a lot of our ways," Old Person wrote in the introduction to the

      "He takes part in our dances and he also performs some of our traditional
      ceremonies," wrote Old Person. "For him to write these books, I think it is
      important for him to have lived the kind of life that our people did.

      "I would say that he has shown more interest and obtained more knowledge of
      our traditional way of life than most of our people today," wrote Old

      One of Hungry-Wolf's earliest mentors was James White Calf, who died in
      1970 at either 110 or 116 years old.

      "He was the last warrior who took a scalp or killed a buffalo," Hungry-Wolf
      said. "He fought in the last Plains Indian war (between the Blackfeet and
      the Gros Ventres) and lived into the Space Age."

      White Calf taught him that living a natural life was far better than
      becoming an attorney, as he had once planned. He's never regretted
      scrapping that plan.

      Hungry-Wolf now lives along the Kootenay River in British Columbia with his
      wife, Beverly Little Bear. They've been medicine bundle holders for
      decades, he said.

      Norman has known Hungry-Wolf for three decades, often assisting with him in
      medicine bundle ceremonies presided over by the tribe's late spiritual
      leader, George Kicking Woman.

      "He and Beverly have had medicine bundles, painted tepees and participated
      in sun dances," Norman said.

      "He's quite a character, but very credible," Norman added. "He learned from
      some very old people, and if he hadn't made this knowledge available to the
      Blackfeet people, much of it would have been lost."

      Hungry-Wolf's adopted name came from his behavior at the dinner table, he

      And the spelling of his last name is variable, he added.

      "My children spell it several ways, Hungrywolf and Hungry Wolf," he said.

      "But I began to hyphenate it after I went back East and they referred to me
      as Mr. Wolf. I said, 'No, It's Hungry Wolf,' and began to hyphenate it to
      keep the two words together."

      Reach Tribune Projects Editor Eric Newhouse at 791-1485, 800-438-6600 or
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