People & Place

When entering the Blackfeet reservation from any of the four directions, you’ll drive under the proud, watchful gaze of two Indian warriors on horseback. You’ll have to pull over, though, and get up close to these sculptures to see that they’re cleverly crafted from scraps of rusted vehicles, bits of barbed wire, and the stones of an old mission school. 

The statues are the work of Blackfeet tribal member Jay Laber. But this is a far cry from junkyard artistry. Laber has chosen materials that have significance to events in Blackfeet tribal history. The bases were made using recycled sandstone blocks from the Holy Family Mission, built in the late 1800s on the Two Medicine River. The warriors themselves are constructed of parts gleaned from cars and trucks that were destroyed in the massive flood of June 8, 1964. 

Laber doesn’t sketch his projects in advance. He says, “If I don’t sketch it, it’s what it wants to be when it’s done.” 

Located in scenic turnouts off either US 2 or US 89, each pair of warriors can be appreciated year-round. 

I wonder if this sculpture is covered by the standard 30,000-mile drivetrain warranty. 

 

 ~ excerpted from Montana Curiosities, published by Globe Pequot Press.