In the 1840s the Jesuits arrived in Montana with fathers DeSmet and Ravalli, establishing missions among the various mountain indigenous groups. At our stop at St. Ignatius in (of course) St. Ignatius, Montana, we discussed syncretism and religion. We used the mission to discuss similar influences as seen in Hellenism as carried east by Alexander the Great on Buddhism, and the case of Catholicism in Aztec and Maya society.
The tipi in the picture holds the Eucharist - the most sacred place in the mission, where the body and blood of Christ resides. Putting him in the tipi in this reservation parish is a sign of respect.
Jesus Christ is portrayed in the mission as an Indian Chief - notice the Sacred Heart image in the picture.
This was the background for our discussion - once more, this beats the pants of a chalk board.