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The most eloquent prayer: How the Chippewa Cree are fighting suicide on Rocky Boy’s reservation

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The most eloquent prayer: How the Chippewa Cree are fighting suicide on Rocky Boy’s reservation

Feb 18, 2024 | 11:51 am ET
By Meghan Elaine
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The most eloquent prayer: How the Chippewa Cree are fighting suicide on Rocky Boy’s reservation
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Bridger Morsette, 15, rides his horse, Bud Light, through the Rocky Boy’s Reservation while he burns a bundle of smoldering sage as a part of the Smudge the Rez event on Oct. 18, 2023. (Photo by Ava Rosvold)

Tiny, intricate beads danced together in unison, forming an array of vivid colors. The hands of 41-year-old Jennifer Tendoy trembled as she grazed the top of a half-finished moccasin. A bear paw drawing was placed carefully on copy paper with smudged pencil marks from where her daughter last drew, two weeks before her daughter died by suicide.

The most eloquent prayer: How the Chippewa Cree are fighting suicide on Rocky Boy’s reservation
Tendoy points to sprigs of lavender and sage her daughter designed for her son’s moccasins. Tendoy says her daughter picked out the colors of the design before she died. Tendoy is following all of her daughter’s instruction for the artwork. (Photo by Ava Rosvold | BYLINE magazine).

 

About this series

During February and March, the Daily Montanan is collaborating with students at the University of Montana to present the School of Journalism’s work on the topic of mental health in Montana. Each Sunday, the Daily Montanan will spotlight one of the stories that was featured in Byline magazine, which showcases the work of UM journalists and photojournalists. The entire series with complete photos can be found here.

Students in the University of Montana School of Journalism produce a magazine every other year as part of their capstone experience. 

Please note that several of the stories contain potentially triggering material. Don’t be reluctant to seek help if you or someone you know is in danger. Call or text the mental health crisis line at 988 or reach out to local resources to get the help you need.

The most eloquent prayer: How the Chippewa Cree are fighting suicide on Rocky Boy’s reservation
Ashton Tendoy, Jennifer’s son, plays a traditional drum song for his mother. (Photo by Ava Rosvold for BYLINE magazine)