Greater Yellowstone has rightly been described as “a matrix of sacred sites.” To put that into context, some 1,600 Native sites have been recorded in just 10% of the landmass of Yellowstone National Park. The majority of those sites and the “artifacts” removed from them remain unidentified. The question is: if so many sacred and historic sites exist in such a relatively small area, how many exist in Greater Yellowstone as a whole, beyond the boundaries of the national parks? When protections are removed from the grizzly, protections will be removed from the lands the grizzly presently occupies – 38% of which the Feds and States don’t include within their statistical models, as they only count grizzly bears in what they have designated the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA). Upon delisting, when the protections on the land are removed, or at best relaxed, and energy, livestock, timber leases, etc. are increased, what happens to these sacred and historic sites that are undoubtedly there, but have never been cataloged, as Tribal Nations have not been consulted and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs) have yet to be engaged to survey these areas?
This is a Piikani insight into Yellowstone, but all of our sister tribes have their own narratives, and we respect and honor all.
The Piikani Nation has an ancient connection to Greater Yellowstone. Niitsitapi, the people of the Blackfoot Confederacy, harvested sacred paints in the region, and collected medicines the grizzly taught us to use. Our ancestors named many of the prominent features in Greater Yellowstone, such as the Beartooth Mountains, Heart Mountain, the Bull’s Nose (Bull Mountains), and The Rattle (Rattlesnake Mountain), and they gave their lives to protect the sanctity of that land in encounters with Anglo-European explorers and fortune seekers like Daniel Potts (near West Thumb, 1826), Osborne Russell (Pelican Creek, 1839), and Baptiste Decharme (Indian Pond, 1839).
Many of these deeds and expeditions were preserved not only in oral history, but also in our Winter Counts, and upon individual robes, an example of which is “Calf Robe’s Journey,” described by Brings-Down-the Sun. From statements made by the USFWS, it is apparent that if the grizzly bear in Yellowstone is delisted, the grizzly bear in our current homeland – classified by USFWS as the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem in the “Crown of the Continent” – will be next.
We realize that what is to be visited upon our sacred relative, the grizzly, and upon the sacred land of Yellowstone the grizzly protects, will soon be inflicted upon what remains of our traditional homeland. However, the struggle to protect the sacred in the face of multinational energy companies with existing and prospective leases is not new to us.
From - Piikani Nation Chief and Council Declaration, September 12, 2016
Why a Congressional Investigation
has been called for
Chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman, Chief of the Siksika Nation, and others, have categorized the proposed delisting of the grizzly bear as an act of cultural genocide against our people."
"Through information obtained via FOIA requests it is now apparent that the motivational factors behind both the delisting of the grizzly bear and the construction of the DAPL are closely aligned.”
America’s first national park should no longer have features named after the proponents and exponents of genocide, as is the case with Hayden Valley and Mount Doane.
The struggle over defending the sacred Badger-Two Medicine area is related to the proposed delisting of the grizzly bear.