Phase II Improvements on at the Peets Hill Addition

8/3/2023

Construction update (11/29/2023): The Medicine Wheel and Mountain Range Finder installation will be complete in spring 2024. Thanks for your patience. 

A Note from Adam Johnson, Trails Program Manager, on the Peets Hill expansion project:

We hope that everyone has had the chance to visit and experience the new overlooks and trail that were constructed on the newly expanded  south end of Peets Hill this past June. Whether it be during a morning run or an evening sunset viewing, the new addition is ready for visitors. I drive Church Street on mornings that I drop my son off at daycare and every morning I see users on the new single-track trail. It is quickly becoming the preferred route to the top of Burke Park. Each time I visit the overlooks, I observe someone sitting on the rock benches, silently taking in the views. We’re so glad people are already enjoying the improvements!

These first few improvements, focused primarily on the new 12 acre addition, are only phase one of the improvements planned for Burke Park. Next month will see construction start up again as we begin Phase II of the improvements, a circular Mountain Range Finder overlook that includes a Native American Medicine Wheel. The Phase II improvements will occur at the crest of Peets Hill on what has been Burke Park since the last addition in 2008.

The most prominent, and time-consuming, intricate improvement will be the Mountain Range Finder & Medicine Wheel. This feature will consist of a round overlook constructed with large rock, forming a bench. The backrest of the benches will be silhouettes of the mountain ranges encircling the Gallatin Valley. Prominent peaks will be labeled. If one were to stand in the middle of the overlook, the silhouettes and peaks will align with their physical location. Located on the ground within the rangefinder will be concrete Native American Medicine Wheel.

The Medicine Wheel design, sometimes known as the Sacred Hoop, is a symbol that has been used by generations of various Native American Tribes for health, healing, and ceremonial purposes with 4 segments aligned with the cardinal directions. The wheel can take many forms, from artwork to artifacts to large physical constructions on the land. The wheel incorporated in this project will be of a general design as different tribes interpret the medicine wheel in their own unique way. Each of the Four Directions (East, South, West, and North) can be interpreted to represent a variety different ideals and beliefs such as

The human races

Stages of life: birth, youth, adult (or elder), death

Seasons of the year: spring, summer, winter, fall

Aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical

Elements of nature: fire (or sun), air, water, and earth

Animals: Eagle, Bear, Wolf, Buffalo and many others

Ceremonial plants: tobacco, sweet grass, sage, cedar

The Gallatin Valley is considered a common hunting ground by the tribes and as such has ties to many tribes, some of which do not have treaty land within Montana.  Taking a cue from the Drum Hall in American Indian Hall on the MSU Campus, an additional ring of concrete, divided in 8 segments, will encircle the wheel. Each segment of the ring represents the reservations (treaty lands) located within the state of Montana. The segments are arranged such that if one were to stand in the geographic center of Montana, each segment would be placed in the general direction of the treaty lands.  In place of using treaty land names, a plaque with the names of the tribes associated with each will be displayed. We were honored to have listened and learned from tribal members and the MSU community as we designed and planned this important addition. GVLT and the City of Bozeman are proud to honor the many tribes who have historically used the Gallatin Valley through the construction of a Medicine Wheel. The Peets Hill Medicine Wheel is also a space for the public to create their own meaning. The area will be a perfect place for quiet reflection or communal gathering.

 

The overall goal of the improvements will be to create spaces to be used by everyone in our ever-expanding community for recreation, education, and contemplation. As the sheer number of users of Burke Park continues to grow, these improvements will help manage and distribute users through dedicated overlooks and additional trail connections. We are ever grateful for your support of our community open spaces, trails, and parks.