Big Sky Roundup

Longest running Indigenous speaker series in the National Park Service turns 40

By: - July 11, 2022 5:09 pm

Glenns Lake in Glacier National Park (Photo by Jeff Pang via Glacier National Park and Flickr | CC-BY-SA 2.0).

Native America Speaks, the National Park Service’s longest running Indigenous speaker series held throughout the Blackfeet Nation and in Glacier National Park, turns 40 this year.

Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille tribal members contribute to the program, which offers cultural presentations to “provide opportunities for local tribal members to share their rich history and culture through singing, storytelling, presentations, and hands-on learning,” according to the National Park Service website.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary, the park held a student art contest to select the first ever logo for the program, founded in 1982. Henrietta Wolf Black, a student at the Salish and Kootenai College, won the competition.

The winning logo for the Native America Speaks program, designed by Henrietta Wolf Black.

Upcoming programs and cultural presentations include four scheduled Blackfeet Singers and Dancers programs, which “provide insight into contemporary and traditional Blackfeet history and culture through narration and fancy, jingle, traditional, and grass dance demonstrations,” as described on the website.

The full schedule of programs, which run through early September, can be found at https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/nas.htm.

In a 2019 video, then Superintendent of Glacier National Park Jeff Mow said the program was “an opportunity for our tribal neighbors to tell their own story about their relationship to Glacier National Park and its landscape.”

Mow said the program has been a jumping off point for the park to develop a relationship with neighboring tribal communities.

Jack Gladstone, co-founder of Native America Speaks, also spoke in the video: “With music and with song and with poetry, the awe is restored. The awe of being reintroduced to something that is almost a forgotten landscape.”

Native America Speaks presentations are offered in Glacier at park campgrounds and historic lodges, in the St. Mary Visitor Center, and at several locations in Blackfeet Nation, including the Museum of the Plains Indian, the Heritage Center, and Chewing Black Bones Campground.

“If one person out of 100 can take home what I said and learn from it and keep it with them for the rest of their life, then being a presenter paid off,” said Treyace Yellow Owl in the video.

Recordings of presentations from 2019 are available online from the following presenters: Vernon FinleyDon Fish, the late Tony IncasholaDarnell Rides At The DoorTreyace Yellow OwlErnie Heavy Runner, and Mariah Gladstone. A donation to the fundraising partner for the park, Glacier National Park Conservancy, funds all Native America Speaks programs.

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Nicole Girten
Nicole Girten

Nicole Girten is a reporter for the Daily Montanan. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune as a government watchdog reporter. She holds a degree from Florida State University and a Master of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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