Yellowstone is working to expand the tribal presence; Native Americans have been linked to the landscape for 11,000 years

By Brendan LaChance on August 4, 2021

North Entrance Teepee Installation Event: Cam Sholly and Tribal Members. (NPS / Jacob W. Frank)

CASPER, Wyoming – Yellowstone National Park said Wednesday it will work to “expand tribal presence and the representation of their significant cultural heritage in the park” as Yellowstone’s 150th anniversary approaches in 2022.

“Native Americans have lived and have been connected to the landscape now known as Yellowstone for at least 11,000 years,” Yellowstone said. “Today there are 27 associated tribes that have historical and modern connections to the lands and resources now found in the park.”

Yellowstone says it is working with the tribes on a variety of initiatives, including a bison management initiative that involved “the recent transfer of bison from Yellowstone to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes in Fort Peck, MT.”

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“The park has also initiated a multi-year partnership with the Faculty of Native American Studies at Salish Kootenai College, as they bring a unique understanding of the cultural significance of archaeological resources in the park,” Yellowstone said.

The park said Yellowstone and the tribes are committed to improving partnerships to tell tribal stories.

“In April, the park invited all associated tribes to a listening session where discussions focused on potential actions and initiatives that Yellowstone and interested tribes could collaborate on,” Yellowstone said. “In June, Superintendent Cam Sholly and park staff met with members of various tribes and tribal colleges to continue the conversation about building relationships and creating a vision for the future.”

“The week included a ceremony at the north entrance to the park with the temporary installation of a crow-style teepee. The tribe members told the story of the origin of the tipi and sang a song of honor.

Sholly added, “Our goal is to substantially involve every tribe connected to Yellowstone. It is very important that the 150th anniversary is not only about Yellowstone as a national park, but also a crucial opportunity for us to listen and work more closely with all associated tribes. Our intention is to partner with the associated tribes to better honor their cultures and heritage of tremendous importance in this region. The engagement we are making now will help establish a stronger foundation for collaboration in the future.

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