Kids will be kids

Photographer Rebecca Drobis looks for universal images of youth on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.

  • Bryson Bird, left, and Rhett Michael, both 6 years old, shield themselves from the wind on their way to assist with calving on the Rumney Ranch, 20 miles north of Browning, Montana.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • Sadie Time Sleeping, 6, compares her handprints with those left on a garbage dumpster. Heart Butte, Blackfeet Reservation, Montana.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • Asia, 7, plays on a trampoline in a neighbor's yard. Browning, Blackfeet Reservation, Montana.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • A school bus travels Montana Highway 2 between East Glacier and Browning on the Blackfeet Reservation.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • Sophia, 7. Two Medicine Lake, Blackfeet Reservation, Montana.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • Children play outside Last Star Homes. Browning, Blackfeet Reservation, Montana.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • Left to right: Tyler, 6, Frankie, 5, and Jimmy and Brilee, 4, play on an old horse trailer. East Glacier, Blackfeet Reservation, Montana.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • A Blackfeet teenager sends a text message to a friend while on horseback. Heart Butte, Blackfeet Reservation, Montana.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • Students on a Boys & Girls Club photography field trip. Heart Butte, Blackfeet Reservation, Montana.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • Tiffany Polk prepares her daughter, Danaya Vandeburg, for the Tiny Tot Competition at North American Indian Days on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • Children pose with an uncooperative kitten. Browning, Blackfeet Reservation, Montana.

    Rebecca Drobis
  • Annie Whitney, 6, stands at Logan Pass on the Going to the Sun Highway during a field trip to Glacier National Park with the Browning Boys & Girls Club. Before it became a national park, this land belonged to the Blackfeet Tribe.

    Rebecca Drobis
 

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On the Blackfeet Reservation in northern Montana, winters are long and difficult, unemployment is high and infrastructure lacking. Children grow up without the latest video games and movies or a rigid schedule of activities. But despite the sometimes-harsh realities of the reservation, their imaginations flourish. Photographer Rebecca Drobis has been making trips to the reservation over the last decade. Impressed by their resilience, Drobis trained her camera on the reservation's youth, hoping to capture universal images of childhood.

"There exists the purity of imaginative play -- an intersection between raw nature and the developing mind of a child," Drobis writes. "These children have tremendous physical confidence, strength and a spirit of fearlessness. They race down pothole-covered roads on bicycles, bound from a trampoline onto a neighbor's car, sled down a hill at top speed in subzero temperatures and run barefoot through deep woods. And the natural world has a deep and meaningful presence in a child's life here."

Maria  Malanikova
Maria Malanikova
Oct 05, 2013 06:36 AM
Children have plenty of options to fill time meaningfully. Sport is the best activity that entertained them, and give them a purpose in life. Adults keep children at play. Children need the presence of adults in games.
Allison Basye
Allison Basye
Oct 06, 2013 09:07 AM
Maria: apparently, you have never stepped foot onto a reservation. Life there is barely early 20th century for the People.

Sports are practically non-existent in any form because of the lack of money and adults who can supervise and coach. There is no money for school sports because their education is bare minimum at best with a huge drop out rate because the kids need to work in order to help out their families. Both parents usually have to work 12 hour days, 7 days a week to make ends meet. Unemployment and alcoholism runs very high on reservations. These children of the reservation, where they are forced to live by our US government, don't have "plenty of options" for anything. Food & shelter are the priority; some houses don't have indoor plumbing and little electricity. They barely have food on the table and clothes on their backs.

Get out of your Ivory Tower and country club spa mentality for a day and visit a reservation to see the real world these kids must live in because of our government. Then get back to me on how they have plenty of options to spend their time meaningfully.