Many Come Together
November 17, 2021
As a land trust, we are deeply rooted in the land itself and the history it holds. Our work spans across Gallatin, Park, and Madison counties, a landscape with rich archeological and cultural history, giving us insight into life before our time. Only fifty miles from our office, an ancient child’s skull was unearthed near Wilsall, MT, which has been dated to the native Clovis tribe who inhabited this area approximately 12,700 years ago (1). This incredible discovery gives light to the generations of Native people who travelled across, lived upon, enjoyed, and stewarded this valley for thousands of years before colonization. The Blackfeet Nation calls this area “Ahkoto Waktai Sakum,” which translates to “Many Come Together” country.
According to legend, this land was not to be fought over but shared (2). The Gallatin Valley, with its generous rivers, wildlife abundance, and soils was not claimed by any one indigenous nation, but used by many seasonally, including the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Salish Kootenai, Blackfeet, Bannock, Lakota, Nez Perce, Flathead, Sioux, and Shoshone tribes (2). During early colonization less than 160 years ago, these tribes were wrongfully and violently displaced from their homelands and territories; the shared land repeatedly divided and sold. The native land mass, which started off covering most of Montana in the 1800s, shrunk by treaties that were struck with the government but then rescinded, leaving Native communities displaced (3). While there are currently no reservations within the Valley, tribal members had and continue to have deep spiritual, cultural, and recreational connections to this landscape.
As an organization who’s work is tied to the land, GVLT holds respectful acknowledgment and honor for the tribes who stewarded this unique landscape from time immemorial. In our 31 years, we have protected just over 50,000 acres from irreversible development through conservation easements – granting protections into perpetuity. There is still more to protect, and still more to learn. Acknowledgment of tribal nations and their connection here brings necessary indigenous visibility to the longer history of this area and the history that continues to this day. We invite you to join us in learning more about tribal communities in Montana and this special place we hold so dear.
- Native Americans Descend from Ancient Montana Boy https://www.science.org/content/article/native-americans-descend-ancient-montana-boy
- Montana Indians: Their History and Location, Division of Indian Education, Montana Office of Public Instruction: https://opi.mt.gov/Portals/182/Page%20Files/Indian%20Education/Indian%20Education%20101/Montana%20Indians%20Their%20History%20and%20Location.pdf
- Bozeman Daily Chronicle https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/archaeologist-discusses-native-americans-use-of-gallatin-valley-by-nick-gevock-chronicle-staff-writer-more/article_855ab048-4e4e-5a8e-bbef-1c7773397b02.html
To Learn More:
- Watch – Double Helixes in Medicine Wheel Country, Dr. Shane Doyle’s reflection on the multi-tribal ceremonial reburial of Anzick child remains. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpCQauNQmDQ
- Read – Local Crow member, Dr. Shane Doyle’s In Home Land, published by the Mountain Journal: https://mountainjournal.org/public-lands-were-homelands-for-the-crow-nation
- Read – Essential Understanding Regarding Montana Indians: Indian Education for All, Montana Office of Public Instruction: https://opi.mt.gov/Portals/182/Page%20Files/Indian%20Education/Indian%20Education%20101/essentialunderstandings.pdf?ver=2018-09-21-121920-993
- Read – Six Hundred Generations by Carl M. Davis