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Indigenous programing in Yellowstone National Park reminds public of colonial history

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Mary Ellen Strom
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Stage for performances at the first teepee village in Yellowstone National Park since the parks inception.

Yellowstone Revealed was planned for and by Indigenous people. The week will include guided tours of Indigenously significant areas in the park as well as art and live musical performances. Yellowstone National Park is helping host the event for its 150 anniversary.

Franchesca Pine-Rodriguez is with Mountain Time Arts in Bozeman, Montana. She said while the 150 anniversary is a celebration, the Indigenous nations of the land have another relationship with the park’s birthday.

“It's a reminder of being removed from an area that we traditionally inhabited. So, that is something that we are not celebrating. But when we think about everything that our people have been through, and it's just a miracle that we are still here,” she said.

Pine-Rodriguez hopes to continue the relationship with the park in furthering the discussion on Indigenous input in management and conservation.

Pine-Rodriguez said there's a lot more to Yellowstone than commonly known, and events like this help correct misconceptions on Indigenous people.

“I'm talking about the news, I'm talking about textbooks, I'm talking about school, your education. People are starting to realize that they're not being told the entire story in a lot of aspects of a lot of subjects,” she said.

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Cindy Shaffer
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Lighted teepees in Gardiner, MT.

Pine-Rodriguez wants to remind the public that for Indigenous communities the 150 is a celebration of survival and a time to remember the removal of the original Indigenous inhabitants of Yellowstone National Park.

The first tipi village in the park in 150 years is part of the festivities in Madison Junction. The village consists of 12 tipi lodges and 15 tipi rings to usher in a new relationship between the park and the original tribes of the land.

There are going to be performances by Supaman Apsáalooke rapper, drum groups, and Northern Arapaho musician from the Wind River Christian Wallowingbull.

Earlier this year a mountain in Yellowstone National Park was renamed from Mount Doane to First Peoples Mountain. Gustavus Doane led an expedition in the 1870s that helped the park gain its national park status. He also had a hand in the murder of 173 Piegan Blackfeet, after a white fur trader was murdered.

Yellowstone National Park said in a press release there are 27 Indigenous tribes who have historical and contemporary ties to the land.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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