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Blackfeet language in the spotlight after Gladstone's Golden Globe win

Robert Hall
Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-15 12:24:42-05

GREAT FALLS — Lily Gladstone achieved a Hollywood milestone at the 2024 Golden Globe Awards with her win as best actress in a feature film. Her portrayal of Mollie Burkhart in “Killers of the Flower Moon” earned her the prestigious honor. Gladstone’s win marked the first time an Indigenous person has taken home the prize for best actress.

And when she took the stage to accept the statue, she began her speech by speaking in the Blackfeet language.

“I was trying to teach myself, because my good friend and language vitalizations teacher from back home, Robert Hall, gave me a beautiful word that I’m not familiar with,” Gladstone said later on in the night, “so I was trying to remember that one.”

Robert Hall, the Blackfeet Native American Studies Director at Browning Public Schools, did not expect to hear his name on national television that night, but he loved that the language that he has focused the past 18 years of his life learning and teaching is getting recognition.

“Lily is a friend of mine,” Hall said, “… so I sent her a message going, ‘Hey Lily, you’re going to win an Oscar, so you better brush up on your Blackfoot language’, and she just said, ‘You’re right.’”

The day after the Golden Globes, Hall could already see the impact Gladstone had on the community around him.

“The next day our students were ready to learn the language far more than they ever have been, you know, in a long time,” Hall said.

The Blackfoot language can be incredibly difficult to learn. For one, it is verb-based, and the gender of a word is related to the type of verb rather than the noun. There are also both guttural and aspirate tones used in speaking.

Along with a student, Hall is building a color-coded curriculum that can help make learning the language more accessible.

“Language revitalization is a community effort,” Hall said, “And we all play a part in this.”

Hall’s goal is to remember and honor the Blackfeet ancestors by using their language, as well as maintain the Blackfeet identity, and build a stronger community together. With the attention Gladstone has brought to the Blackfeet, Hall is optimistic.

“I just really think that by Lily Gladstone shining a light on our department, it just really, it just makes me feel good,” Hall said, “And it also kind of gives a good shout out to public schools because public schools are very important in Montana.”

Hall also runs a nonprofit called āasāisstṫǒ Language Society. Anyone interested in learning more or donating can email

KRTV featured Hall several years ago when he created a Blackfeet language Christmas video:

Browning teacher creates musical Blackfeet-language Christmas video