On Thursday, June 20, as the winds and rains blew across the divide, a comparable buzz of activity was taking place at the base of the pass. In the auditorium of the St. Mary visitor center, a diverse group of community members and visitors gathered for the annual Glacier National Park Blessing ceremony.
Treyace Yellow Owl, who performed the blessing in Pikuni, acknowledged the long-standing relationship between the Blackfeet and the area that is now Glacier National Park. Ms. Yellow Owl represents the multigenerational partnership between the Blackfeet and the Park Service: her grandmother used to visit the Park daily to share Blackfeet stories and culture with visitors, and now Treyace had the opportunity to share her own words of wisdom and gratitude.
Jeff Mow, Superintendent of the National Park, also spoke and acknowledged the tribal park employees, hoping for the day that Glacier will see a Blackfeet Superintendent.
Terry Tatsey, Vice Chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Counsel, shared a beautiful comment on the ceremony acknowledging “the mountains are a very powerful spiritual place, so we must ask in a proper way for their protection when we visit them.” He shared his own stories of the area and represented the Iinnii Initiative highlighting the fact that, “by providing a place for the buffalo to roam free that meets all their needs, they will in time take care of the Pikuni people.” The Iinnii Initiative has made great strides, and in the last week over 500 head have been successfully moved to their summer home in East Glacier.
Loren Bird Rattler, the emcee of the event, recognized that “the partnership with Glacier National Park is important for us to begin to expand tourism and create sustainable economics in Blackfeet Country.”
The event culminated in a colorful demonstration of Blackfeet dance by Raymond Croff’s dance crew. Performed were a grass dance, chicken dance, fancy shawl dance and jingle dress dance.
The Blessing ceremony demonstrated how reciprocal relationships, founded in respect, will continue to grow through the generations. Acknowledging Blackfeet presence in the Park bolstered this relationship and reflected the common goals of the Tribe and the Park to appreciate and care for this magnificent landscape.
For more information about the ARMP and their projects, contact Loren Bird Rattler at 338-7521 Ext. 2370 and via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Blackfeet ARMP website at www.BlackfeetARMP.com and visit and like our Face-book page, @BlackfeetARMP for the latest information.