Big Sky Roundup

Blackfeet Nation recognized as first ‘Tree City of the World’

By: - April 29, 2023 9:23 am

Members of the Blackfeet Nation and partner agencies celebrate and recognize the Blackfeet Nation as the first Tribal Nation to be designated as a Tree City of the World. (Provided by the DNRC)

Members of the Blackfeet Nation and partner agencies gathered earlier this month to celebrate and recognize the Blackfeet Nation as the first Tribal Nation to be designated as a Tree City of the World by the Arbor Day Foundation, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation announced Friday.

“We are excited to receive this recognition, it holds more significance in being defined as a sovereign nation of the world,” said Termaine Edmo, Environmental Advisor to the Blackfeet Nation, in a statement. “The tribe is committed to restoring culture and connection to traditional plants knowing that is how we became candidate for the Tree City of the World recognition.”

Last year, the Blackfeet Nation was recognized as the first ever tribe to be designated a Tree City USA, the DNRC said.

Saplings distributed to the Blackfeet Nation. (Provided by the DNRC)

Tree Cities of the World is a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Arbor Day Foundation program with local partners through the USDA Forest Service and the DNRC’s Conservation Forestry Division.

Trees have cultural and community importance to the Blackfeet Nation through the many benefits trees provide including opportunities for community interaction through planting and maintenance, cultural education, volunteerism, economic development and environmental conservation.

In addition to the ceremony last Friday, over 1,500 trees were given to local community members, nearly tripling the amount distributed last year, the DNRC said. Eighty small trees were also delivered to various windbreak and shelterbelt system trail species projects in the area, whichprotect soil from harsh winds to stave off erosion.

Jamie Kirby, DNRC urban and community forestry coordinator, partnered with the Blackfeet Nation to secure grant funding through the Trees for Tribal Communities Landscape Scale Restoration Grant – a state and private forestry grant program through the USDA Forest Service, according to the DNRC.

“The Department values the partnership we have with the Blackfeet Nation, and other Tribal Nations in Montana, as it allows us to share our commitment to raising awareness of the multiple benefits of community forests, including cultural significance,” said Kirby in a statement.

In the coming weeks DNRC, the Blackfeet Environmental Office, and BFCC will work on various restoration projects in the area including restoration plantings for the second phase of the Willow Creek project, installing a rainwater catchment system for the Heart Butte Community Center, and establishing a serviceberry seedling orchard for local food sovereignty and sustainability.

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