Annie Dorothy (Mad Plume) Wall, 95, of Browning, Mont. died of natural causes Aug. 2 at the Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
Annie was born on Big Badger Creek March 10, 1914. She was named Yellow Fox Woman by her grandfather Middle Rider. Her parents were Elmer Mad Plume and Red Shell Woman (or Minnie Kaluse). Unfortunately, when she was 1 year old, her mother died due to complications from childbirth. She was then raised in Little Badger by her maternal grandparents Not Real Beaver Woman (or Mary Spotted Bear) and Under Mink (or Tim No Runner), and her great-grandmother Big Mountain Lion Woman. All of Annie’s grandparent’s grew up during the buffalo days and had lived a nomadic lifestyle.
Annie was one of the last fluent speakers of the Blackfeet language. It saddened her as she grew older to see there were fewer and fewer people speaking the language. She helped perpetuate the language by being interviewed by the National Museum of Natural History as they developed a lexicon of Blackfeet terms for material culture. She also recorded stories of family and community life.
She grew up in the area that is now called the Badger-Two Medicine. Annie was a treasure trove of local history. She knew the names of each family that lived in the region, and their society affiliations. The Blackfeet believe names gave an individual supernatural power. And because of this, names became personal property that could be “transferred” from person to person or new names could be created. Annie gave names to her many grandchildren. She transferred her own name, Yellow Fox Woman, to her granddaughter Rosalyn LaPier in the early 1970s.
Annie learned many of the old ways from her two grandmothers, including the knowledge of plants. She was well-known for her medicinal plant knowledge and many people came to her for medicine. She was featured in a magazine article, “Blackfeet Botanist: Annie Mad Plume Wall” in the Montana Naturalist Magazine in 2005. The article was republished by the Montana Native Plant Society in 2009. Until the last couple years of her life, she continued to gather roots, berries and other plants with her family during the spring and summer.
Annie attended Holy Family Mission boarding school on the Two Medicine River. She told a story of her experiences at Holy Family in the documentary “Inside/Out” produced by the Missoula YWCA. Holy Family became her second home; she had many happy memories of the time she spent there. She even returned to work there as a young adult.
She was raised with Blackfeet religious ways, however, was a Catholic most of her life. After her husband passed away she became an evangelical Christian. However, she respected Blackfeet ways and religion. For example, with each season of the year, she recounted to her family the various society functions that used to occur and what should be happening at those occasions. She requested the Society Songs of Little Badger be sung at her funeral.
Annie married Francis (Aimsback) Wall in 1936. They remained married until his death in 1973. Francis was adopted and raised by Aimsback and Minnie Aimsback on Blacktail Creek. Annie told stories of their early life together living with his parents. Annie and Francis attended and participated in many society gatherings and the annual Medicine Lodges in the Heart Butte community. Annie and old lady Aimsback served as attendants to the holy medicine woman, while Francis served as a singer to different society activities.
Annie and Francis raised eight children. They moved into Browning and bought a house on Willow Creek. After they moved into town, their house served as a social gathering place for friends and relatives from the Little Badger and Blacktail communities. Annie loved to visit, play cards and board games, and do puzzles. And as she got older she loved to tell stories about days gone by. She enjoyed telling stories about family picnics, society gatherings and attending Medicine Lodges. She loved to tell stories about riding her horse on the hills around the Badger-Two Medicine area.
Annie also learned from her two grandmothers how to do beadwork and other Blackfeet crafts. She beaded elaborate bags which she sold at Glacier National Park. She also made many quilts. She made a quilt for each grandchild of her friend and neighbor, the late Mary Ground.
Annie is survived by five generations, including her sons Francis (Shirley) Wall of Helena, Thomas Wall of Browning and her daughter’s Irene Old Chief of Browning, Angeline Wall of Browning, Roselyn Azure of Cut Bank and Bernadette Wall of Browning; and 30 grandchildren, 80 great-grandchildren and 32 great-great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband Francis (Aimsback) Wall, a daughter Theresa Still Smoking, an infant daughter Elizabeth, a son Gilbert Wall and several newborn babies.