New Exhibits Help Tell Glacier’s Native American Story

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from NPS Glacier National Park:

Visitor Center at Saint Mary - Wikipedia Photo

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – New exhibits now greet Glacier National Park visitors at the St. Mary Visitor Center. The new visitor center exhibit entitled “At Home in This Place” focuses on tribal perspectives about the place we today call Glacier National Park.

The new exhibits were installed in early July and were viewed by tribal leaders and elders Wednesday afternoon, July 14 during a dedication ceremony. As part of the dedication, tribal perspectives and remarks were offered by Peter (Rusty) Tatsey (Blackfeet), Vernon Finley (Kootenai) and Thompson Smith (Salish-Pend d’Oreille).

According to Glacier National Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright, “Several years of consultation with cultural experts from the Blackfeet, Kootenai and Salish and Pend d’Oreille tribes provided authenticity and a true tribal perspective on issues related to land, plants, animals, mountains and history of this area.”

There are five new main exhibits: 1) Welcome-panels from each of the tribes detailing local Native peoples and their historic and current relationship with the land; 2) Bittersweet Meanings looks at changes faced by tribes with the creation of Glacier National Park; some good, others difficult; 3) Backbone of the World provides native perspectives on the land, mountains, creation stories, and place names; 4) The Wisdom in Spoken Words features oral histories and traditions with video of stories about Glacier by tribal elders. The exhibit includes an indoor tipi setting for sitting and listening to these stories; 5) Animal Lessons is a large winter scene diorama featuring elk, wolves, coyote, and grizzly bear which includes animal stories told by tribal leaders.

Additional exhibits in the lobby focus on other park stories and help interpret resources seen from the building.

These include the following panels: Where the Prairie Meets the Mountains, Who Lives in the Meadows, and Glaciers on the Move.

There is also a new interactive 3-D park topographic map with optic fiber lights highlighting the following: Continental Divides depicts the Continental Divide, Hudson Bay Divide, Triple Divide Peak; Glacier’s 10,000-foot Mountains; Tourism and Early Park Days shows locations of historic hotels and chalets; and Goodbye to the Glaciers is an animated look at the disappearance of park glaciers from 1850 to 2020.

These new exhibits will be permanently on display at the St. Mary Visitor Center. Summer hours of operation at the St. Mary Visitor Center are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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2 responses

    • The Native American presence in the park, especially in the areas of stories, history and interpretation has been increasing over the years. It’s nice to see. Thanks for the visit, Abe.

      Malcolm