…The Moccasins and Other Things

Here’s what I came up with for the museum about my mom’s moccasins. They are made of deer hide, not thick and not warm, kind of like leather gloves for the feet, but (and I’ve worn them) very comfortable. 🙂


These beautiful moccasins with wild rose beadwork were made for Helen Tibbs Beall when she was teaching at the elementary school in Crow Agency, in South Central Montana, not far from Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. The woman who made them was Florence Real-Bird, the mother of one of Helen’s students and Helen’s friend.. 

Helen was born on a farm near Hardin, Montana in 1920. She had nine siblings, three brothers and six sisters. She was the eighth child of Sherman Beall and Emma Harriet Tibbs who settled in Belfry, Montana in 1914. Helen was baptized in the Little Bighorn River by Reverend Chester A. (Chet) Bentley who spent most of his life as a minister to the Crow Indians at the Crow Baptist Mission. 

Helen attended what was then the Normal School of Eastern Montana State College. Her teacher training consisted of a year of coursework, a year of teaching, a year of coursework, a year of teaching and so on until she graduated. 

Her first school was Warman School, a one room school on Warman Creek between Crow Agency and Fort Smith. Helen ended her teaching duties on the Crow Reservation at the elementary school at Crow Agency. She graduated with her teaching credential in 1947. 

Soon after marrying, Helen and her husband, William B. Kennedy, moved to Denver where Bill attended the University of Denver, earning a Masters Degree in Mathematics. Helen continued to teach in the Englewood, Colorado school district until the birth of her daughter in 1952.

More news like stuff…

My injured foot is a lot better, but not quite well. I injured it on September 20, but reinjured it on October 24 so I don’t know exactly if I should be measuring its recovering from September or October, but I guess it’s really up to my foot… I’m still wearing a brace, still using a cane when I walk the dogs, still walking awkwardly, but it doesn’t hurt unless I stand on it too long, and even then it’s not the searing pain it was at the beginning.

Bear and Teddy have adjusted to not getting daily walks. I think that’s a good thing. Bear and I have been out a few times — last time to Shriver/Wright on a blustery gray perfect November day. We both had a wonderful time. From Bear’s perspective there were a lot of new and fascinating things to smell. From my perspective the snow flurries and cold breeze were refreshing. We were happy to be out there together. I learned my lesson about walking them together, for now… Mostly they play in the yard like two hellions — Teddy essentially FLIES when he starts chasing Bear around. Bear doesn’t move much at all. She just lets him go nuts then ambushes him when she feels like it. They like to roughhouse in the living room and I should mind, but I don’t. I just clean it every day…

That’s the news from the Back of Beyond for Tuesday, November 26, 2019

28 thoughts on “…The Moccasins and Other Things

  1. Interesting stuff about your mother. Those are beautifully made moccasins. I had a nice pair of moccasins, but they weren’t half as nice as those are.

    It sounds like your foot is healing. If it mostly doesn’t hurt, it’s healing. Just don’t injure it again! I have a shoulder that I re-injured so many times that NOW it always hurts a little and if I’m not careful, a LOT. I didn’t mean to keep hurting it, but I was a kid and not really paying a lot of attention. So be careful. Our stretchy parts don’t heal well as we get older!

    Happy whatever you celebrate!

    • Thank you, Marilyn! I celebrate Thanksgiving by walking Bear in nature and being thankful for all the people that are inside eating turkey and watching football. You and Garry have a happy Thanksgiving, too.

  2. Very glad to hear your better. That’s a relief to be sure. We got our first semi-snow a few moments ago. I say that advisedly as it’s not going to stay, it appears then disappears as it’s closer to rain in some ways. Cold enough to snow but not cold enough to stay. We’ll see what the next few days bring. North and south of us, there is a great deal of snow and we’re in the middle and so far, have been missed, interestingly enough, except for the hour it just dropped on us and is now gone. Love that your back, I keep looking in on you to see how your doing. xoxo

    • We had that kind of snow last night — pretty much gone now but north of here just 200 miles they got dumped on. I’m only kind of back. I have so much going on and realized that I wasn’t saying much in my blog lately — so I took a break. But I need to check in on everyone from time to time and I love being checked in on! ❤

      • Well, your worth it. I truly adore you. Your an inspiration. I’m glad you write. I hope that many especially under 50 read you and learn and decide to live life! And those over 50 realized there’s still time and life’s worth living! You have lived it, are living it. It’s really awesome and inspiring.

  3. I love how objects like this can represent part of someone’s life story, and that you’ve worn them too. They look in great condition – none of my slippers have survived that well!

    The trouble with feet is that we can’t really give them a rest – we’re up on them too much, so they do take a long time to recover. But the signs look good, so I hope the poorly foot continues to improve. Give the lovely Bear and Teddy a big cuddle from me. 🙂 ❤

  4. I have been to Crow Agency. Took a group of students there for an end of year field trip. We camped there. Our Language and Culture teacher(now Chief for the community) at the school I taught at is married to a woman from there. We went to see the reenactment of Custard’s last stand. It says a lot about your mum to be gifted such lovely work.

    • I was — and am — so proud of her. Whether she knew it or not I have no idea. Some of the first words I knew were Crow. A-ah-jee-a-sa = Stop that right now. Huku-wa-HUH = Come here. It’s really cool you’ve been there. I don’t think I’ve met anyone before who has been there. 🙂

      • I’ve only been the once, and they were very welcoming people! It is funny how we acquire certain words from other languages and make use of them in the sense that I can’t say the English word without the other in my head.

        • I know! It’s so weird. When I came home from China there were things I didn’t know how to say in English — ringworm was one. I had a great time the week I stayed at Crow with my church group in high school. Being up there was like being home for me. My mom’s name opened some doors to us that we wouldn’t have had otherwise which was cool. But I didn’t get the point of a mission trip and just wanted to hang out with the Indians. I got in big trouble…

            • I had a blast. Rode horses along the Little Bighorn with an Indian kid. That’s how I got in trouble. Dragged everyone to the Crow Fair. Went to a funeral mass at Lodge Grass church (so beautiful — the church, Montana sunset, the Indians singing in Crow). I loved it. My mom called me an “Indian lover,” but I still don’t see what’s wrong with that. I learned a lot of Crow words, too. I would’ve stayed forever. So beautiful riding under the dappled shade of those cottonwood trees, free. Totally worth it.

  5. Lovely history about your mom and the moccasins. Made we want to also know more about her friend Florence. I’m sure they moccasins be treasured, whichever home they end up in. My dogs are roughhousing in the yard right now, in an inch of fresh snow, the smaller Aussie bossing the bigger (and gentler) Malamute around. Watching them play is one of my greatest joys. The only time they roughhouse in the house is when I’m talking on the phone. Too often as I’m conducting a work-related call I have to explain, “You might hear some growling and barking in the background; it’s my dogs playing, nothing to worry about!”

    • I wish I knew more about the woman who made the moccasins. All I know is that the family is still in existence and active in tribal life at Crow. My dogs roughhouse most when I’m getting their food ready or yeah, when I’m on the phone. I LOVE watching them. I LOVE it when little Teddy jumps up on the sofa and leaps onto Bear’s head. My sofa will have no springs left by the time he’s full grown… Malamutes are just spectacular dogs. My half-malamute was a “life time” dog — far more partner than pet. I love all snow dogs, though. I feel honored to have been the friend to so many. I might adopt an elderly Siberian at some point, but I can no longer log the miles I would need to make a young Siberian happy.

  6. I remembered while browsing the comments above that some cultures say you shouldn’t gift shoes to loved ones. The recipient will run away from you! Apparently that’s not so among the Crow. 🙂

  7. Thanks so much for filling in the blanks with the background on your mother and her moccasins! Good to hear that your foot is mending. I had a coworker who injured her foot 3 times – ended up having to have surgery… Glad your foot is doing so well without surgical intervention! We are bracing for big snow on Thanksgiving day. Already the airports are warning that flights might be cancelled!

  8. Thank you for the late edition of new from Back of Beyond. This was fun getting caught up. I am concerned about your foot, though. To hurt when you stand….after 1-2 months doesn’t sound right to me, Martha. The pups sound like they have adapted–actually, they sound like a riot to me! The moccasins–like gloves for the feet. What a perfect description. I feel like I know exactly how they feel. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Bear and Teddy. I hope the Great Pumpkin is good…..no, no. Wrong holiday. 😀

    • Actually the pumpkins achieve true greatness on Thanksgiving. My foot only hurts if I stand for 30 minutes or more. I am mildly concerned. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Lois!!!! 🙂

Comments are closed.