Havre Daily News/Lindsay Brown
John and Anna Brumley smile at each other Saturday afternoon during a reception at the Great Northern Inn. The couple won the Governor's Humanities Award in Helena, and the reception celebrated their achievement.
When H. Earl Clack Museum board member Raela Hulett read the qualifications for the Humanities Montana Humanity Award, she thought to herself “That’s John and Anna Brumley.”
So she launched a drive to convince Helena officials to give the award to the long-time operators of the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump outside of Havre.
Then, recalls Elaine Morse, chair of the buffalo jump’s funding foundation, people lined up to write letters in support.
“Anyone who was asked to write a letter said ‘you bet,’” Morse said Saturday.
“Each letter was heartfelt and sincere,” she said. “They were not crank ’em out and sign ’em letters.”
Morse was addressing the audience at a local reception at the Great Northern Inn for people who were unable to attend a Helena reception earlier this month that honored the Brumleys.
A standing-room-only crowd heard speakers praise the Brumleys for their work in preserving and promoting the 2,600-year-old buffalo jump. Attendees ate treats, including a cake with the Brumelys’ picture drawn in frosting.
The Brumleys won the award for the work in overseeing the new interpretive center, the improvements in paving the walkways and other improvements which help visitors understand the buffalo jump’s rich history.
Thousands of tourists and more than 800 students a year visit the buffalo jump.
Morse said the Brumleys have been humble, insisting they don’t deserve the award.
“The people who don’t think they deserve awards are the ones who deserve an award,” she said. “John and Anna deserve this award.”
A large Canadian delegation was on hand to praise the couple for their award.
Janice Andreas, president of the Alberta Archeological Society, praised them for preserving “our common heritage that predates our borders.”
She thanked them for “your kindness and hospitality and long history of laughing around the campfire with us.”
Many Canadians have come to Havre to tour the buffalo jump, she said, and have become enthralled with the beauty of northern Montana, she said.
Havre artist Vince Woodwick presented the Brumleys with a depiction of the buffalo jump and said in the last couple of years he has known the couple “I am so impressed with what they have done for the community.”
Woodwick said he had just one item of advice for the audience.
“If you have never been to the buffalo jump, go there. If you have been to the buffalo jump, go again.”