Tribal Leaders Demand Changes In Yellowstone National Park

Sep 13, 2017

Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

Tribes are gathering in Yellowstone National Park this weekend to demand two place names change. Leaders of the Blackfoot Confederacy and Great Sioux Nation are fed up that Hayden Valley and Mount Doan memorialize men who advocated for the genocide of Native Americans.

 

Chief Stanley Grier, Piikani Nation, left, and Chief Joe Weasel Child, Siksika Nation; both tribes are part of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Chief Grier is one of the tribal leaders organizing the day of action on Saturday in Yellowstone National Park.
Credit Premier Alberta / Flickr Creative Commons

Tribal leaders want Hayden Valley renamed to Buffalo Nations Valley, in honor of all Tribal Nations that have treaty rights and interests to the Greater Yellowstone region.

The valley is currently named for Dr. Ferdinand V. Hayden, who proposed the 1872 act that established Yellowstone National Park. But Hayden also advocated for “extermination” of tribal people if they did not comply with the new park boundaries.

Lieutenant Gustavus Doane is recognized with “Mount Doane” in the park. He was an early explorer of the park area, but Doane also led a massacre of the Piikani, a tribe within the Blackfoot Confederacy.

Yellowstone National Park spokesperson Morgan Warthin says this isn’t the first time tribal leadership has requested places in the park undergo a name change. 

"The tribes brought this to the attention of Yellowstone a year ago, and brought the attention of the names to us," says Warthin. "Prior to that, I would say that our historian is certainly aware of Hayden and Doane."

But Warthin says it’s not up to the park. Members of the U.S. Geological Survey consider name changes within parks. 

Leaders from the Blackfoot Confederacy and Great Sioux Nation are gathering at the Gardiner entrance on Saturday at 1 p.m. 

USGS did not respond to Interview requests from YPR.

Last month, Native American lawmakers in Montana called for the removal of a memorial to Confederate soldiers in Helena.