Yellowstone Strengthens Bonds With Native American Tribes

Yellowstone Strengthens Bonds With Native American Tribes

Written by on August 5, 2021

Yellowstone National Park is strengtheing its connections with Native American tribes in the effort to make the past more present in the park experience.

As the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone approaches in 2022, the park is working to engage with Tribes with a historical connection to the national park. The goal is to expand tribal presence and representation of their important cultural heritage in the park during the anniversary and beyond.

Native Americans have lived in and connected to the landscape now known as Yellowstone for at least 11,000 years.

“Our goal is to substantially engage every Tribe connected to Yellowstone,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “It’s very important that the 150th anniversary is not just about Yellowstone as a national park but also a pivotal opportunity for us to listen to and work more closely with all associated Tribes. Our intent is to partner with associated Tribes to better honor their significantly important cultures and heritage in this area. The engagement we’re doing now will help set a stronger foundation for collaboration well into the future.”

 Today, 27 associated Tribes have historical and modern connections to the lands and resources now found within Yellowstone.

The park engages Tribes on various project proposals and initiatives and has worked closely with multiple Tribes on bison management and the recent transfer of Yellowstone bison to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes at Fort Peck, Montana. The park also initiated a multi-year partnership with Native American Studies faculty at Salish Kootenai College. They bring a unique understanding of the cultural importance of archaeological resources within the park.

Recent dialogue has centered on how the park can improve partnerships with Tribes in telling tribal stories and working with them to expand tribal presence and engagement within the park beyond the 150th anniversary.

In April, the park invited all associated Tribes to a listening session where discussions centered on potential actions and initiatives that Yellowstone and interested Tribes could collaborate on. A special thanks to all our Tribal partners who participated in these conversations.

In June, Superintendent Cam Sholly and park staff met with members from various Tribes and Tribal Colleges to further the conversation about strengthening the relationship and creating a vision for the future.

Teepee at Yellowstone North Entrance

Courtesy Yellowstone National Park

The week included a ceremony at the park’s North Entrance with a temporary installation of a Crow-style teepee.

Tribal members told the story of the teepee’s origin and sang an honor song. A special thanks to Mountain Time Arts for convening these discussions and National Parks Conservation Association for additional support.

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