We Always Went Back There

Naomi “Omi” Crawford remembers the collapse of Swift Dam on Birch Creek and the loss of her cousin, Ethel, and Ethel’s husband and daughter.

4 thoughts on “We Always Went Back There

  1. June Humphrey says:

    I remember that rain, it soaked you to skin in no time. It was like the sky opened up and dumped a bucket of water on you. I remember standing in the grocery store listening to KSEN announce that the people down river on Two Medicine and Birch Creek should evacuate, that they expected the dams to break. I know that most of the people back then did not hear that announcement. Then we started hearing about people dying. It was terrible. Later we all started going to funerals and my dad and brother stayed at the camps by Birch Creek while they searched for bodies. Some were not found including the mother and sister of my friends and family. Ethel and Patty New Breast. It was all so very sad and tragic. I remember reading the weekly Glacier Reporter and looking at all the deaths. The people downstream from the reservation got more press in off the reservation media, than was given to the Blackfeet and their losses. One whole family died except the father. Three of the kids had been in the Boarding School the previous school year. The boy, Tom, was such an nice kid, I really liked him. We had fun with one of the younger girls because she had what a sound like a southern accent. We always asked her to pronounce their names Martha and Margie, she would do it with a long southern like drawl. The little girls and I made a scrap book with cards of the Beatles. The week before this happened I was in the car with some older girls and we stopped at Todd’s Cafe. Earlier while in the car everyone had been singing along with a new song. They were singing something about not going over the Mountain. I looked on the jukebox and pointed at the song Wolverton Mountain and asked Linda Arnoux, I wonder what that song is about. She said she didn’t know. So we put a quarter in the jukebox and played it. We found out that the earlier song was not about “going over the mountain,” The words to the song actually were “They say don’t go on Wolverton Mountain.” LOL. Sadly Linda died the next week in the flood. She survived the waters but died of exposure. So sad, I thought of Linda everytime I heard that song.

  2. Minnie Reed Elmore says:

    My family live through the flood of 64, I helped feed the people that was flooded out and had no place to go our lost their homes..the water went up to the front door of our big white house . I felt so terrible that I couldn’t do more to help. I lost a very good friend in that flood. Those was some terrible days. There was a lot of people that died in that flood. And there wasn’t enough said in the news papers that had any thing to do with the Indian people that was lost in that flood. May god take care of the people that had to live that terrible time over and over again. And yes Mrs. Crawford is a very amazing woman and a credit to to her family and to the Blackfeet Nation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am so happy you are documenting the Flood of ’64 and giving people a chance to tell their stories. I believe talking about hurtful things brings it out into the open where Healing has a chance to happen. This event was a landmark event and shaped some people’s lives. i am happy we are getting the chance to talk about it. So thank you for that.

    My niece reminded me of this page on the phone today so I came to take a look at it again. I still get tears in my eyes when I read anything about the flood. I have never attended the Annual Memorial Event. I think I will do so now.

    I remember when I was a teenager, after the flood, Edna Williamson would wake me in the morning so I could get ready to go to work on my summer job. By the time I got to the kitchen to eat breakfast, she would be looking out the back door, which faced south. As I sat down to eat she would join me and start telling me stories of her daughter Ethel New Breast and her granddaughter Patty. Every so often she would get up and go to the back door looking south toward Birch Creek. I really loved that woman, she made a lasting impression on my heart and soul. I am so appreciative that she was in my life.

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