On a recent excursion with my sons to Glacier National Park we came across Running Eagle Falls. Before venturing off into nature I read up on why this area was named Running Eagle Falls. Turns out that a beautiful Blackfeet native woman became an incredible warrior. Her beauty and stubbornness were unparalleled. My interest was peaked for sure.
Turns out Running Eagle was originally named “Otaki” and was from the Alberta, Canada area. She was a Piegan Tribe of the Blackfeet Nation. She gained her new name after saving her father and later joining a raid to win back stolen horses from a warring tribe. After that she turns out to be an amazing warrior and leader. Her beauty was also considered unparalleled. Her name was well known and well respected even amongst her enemies. She was killed in battle sometime after 1878 by Flathead warriors. Out of respect they returned her body and she was buried under a large tree above the falls. So begins the journey…
The hike to the falls is beyond easy so please don’t let the .3 mile hike, with manicured trails scary you. It will be totally worth your time to experience this piece of art.
The waterfall appears to come from an underground river. From the shore line the water gives the appearance of being blasted from inside the mountain. The water is absolutely crystal clear.
Soon my gaze became affixed to the large trees on top of the ridges, above the water fall. There was a few game trails I began locating and I could tell I wasn’t the first person with this bright idea but my feet soon began climbing. This was not an easy jaunt and included many 60-80 degree portions to the trail. The trail if you want to call that also included several trips on my backside and many sliding backwards moments.
Alas, the effort was truly breathtaking…once I caught my breath. From the top you could see the water lines of a river that must flow from top and underground when winter snow is melting off.
While I couldn’t determine which tree the beautiful warrior was buried under. I had to imagine her spirit sitting there looking our over the amazing Glacier National Park, home for so many years to the Blackfeet Nation.
The climb down was a little more hairy then the way up. It always is. Thank goodness for the well rooted trees and shrubbery that assisted me on my way down. There were some spots that necessitated a controlled bottom side slide. Hence a need to take a dip in the glacier water to cleanse my body and soul.
I will leave you with an interesting excerpt from the Running Eagle story to show you that somethings never change: Running Eagle had been persuaded to go on a four day fast in the wilderness to find her true path. She came back saying the sun had cast down protection on her for the battles to come. In battle this seemed to be very true as in violent situations she was unscathed and always came out victorious.
When she was defeated by the Flathead Tribe during battle the male warriors showed respect by returning her body ceremoniously without desecration. This was not a common thing and was an act that obviously has been passed down because how rare it ever occurred. Alas, like many men, probably trying to regain some pride from the battle. I have no doubt Running Eagle must have taken many lives and fought valiantly so when they returned the body the warriors said the Sun stopped providing power to Running Eagle because she had slept with a man. How typical does that response seem even today? Running Eagle’s story is about a strong woman who fought much adversity for being a woman. She was shunned in her own tribe, her own family yet persevered.
If I had a young daughter I would make sure she knew the story of Running Eagle. I think all young girls and young woman should know the story of they beautiful warrior. This is the type of person I’d want a young girl to emulate as she grew up and not the likes of Beyonce and other ridiculous celebrities so wrongfully looked as heroes in our society. For my sons, I pray there is young women out there learning the stories of amazing women so they too can be amazing.
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