Following the establishment of Yellowstone as a national park in 1872, tensions were sewn between the park and Tribal people due to outright mistreatment of the indigenous peoples. Photo: Jacob W. Frank // NPS

YELLOWSTONE, Wyo. — As the Yellowstone 150th anniversary approaches in 2022, the park announced that they will focus to engage Tribes around potential actions to expand tribal presence and representation of their cultural heritage in the park.

Native Americans have been living in and connected to the landscape now known as Yellowstone for at least 11,000 years. Today, there are 27 associated Tribes who have historic and modern connections to the lands and resources now found within the park.

“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.”

Relations between the park and Tribal people remain complicated today.

“Unfortunately, while the U.S. government agreed that the Yellowstone region belonged to the various local Indigenous tribes in the treaties of Fort Laramie (1851 and 1868), the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant spelled the end of indigenous occupation within the park’s boundaries,” said the U.S. Geological Survey in a report last month.

Following the establishment of Yellowstone as a national park in 1872, tensions were sewn between the park and Tribes due to the outright mistreatment of indigenous peoples.

“Although the [indigeinous] remained for seven years following the park’s establishment, Park Superintendent Colonel P. W. Norris was determined to remove Indigenous people from the newly-established park, believing them to be a deterrent to tourism efforts. Rumors were spread that Indigenous tribes feared the geysers and hot springs of Yellowstone, many died of smallpox, and the remaining few eventually made their way to the Wind River Reservation established southeast of the park,” said the U.S.G.S.

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

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Buckrail @ Caroline

Caroline Chapman is a Community News Reporter. She's a lover of alliteration, easy-to-follow recipes and board games when everyone knows the rules. Her favorite aspect about living in the Tetons is the collective admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.