Tuesday, August 22, 2006


official position corrected

Aubrey Haines, management assistant, and Lemuel Garrison, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park.
Courtesy National Park Service, Yellowstone NP, n.d.

.. In 1994 a standard "parkspeak" conference was convened by superintendent Mike Finley. It was designed to inculcate park employees and interpreters with the 'correct' view of the park. It was, in fact, as much to familiarize Finley with his new park assignment as it was to provide "official" insight to the gathered masses.
.. Aubrey Haines was in attendance and provided the sanctioned park perspective on the early inhabitants of the park: "There were never any Indians in this park except for a few Sheep Eaters, and they were poor for even Indians."
.. Also attending the conference was Lawrence Loendorf, an ethno-archaeologist, who was astounded at the statement. It seems that Haines was just repeating the myth that popular opinion, and the Federal Government position, had generated - and that he had help to propagate. It is wrong.

.. The University of Utah has just published the book that Loendorf wrote to help correct the mistaken image of the people that lived in Yellowstone. It's title is "MOUNTAIN SPIRIT" and is well worth the read.
.. Loendorf has produced a work that will help dispel the NPS position that Yellowstone was not inhabited at the time it was purloined from the indigenous residents.
.. The Casper Star Tribune recounts the story of how Loendorf decided to write this book. We thank him for his effort.
.. Another book, "Alpine Sentinels" is another popular impressionistic telling of the same history.
.. Of course the Shoshone folks have always known that they lived in and around what is now Yellowstone National Park.
.. Although the Shoshone people are sundered and live in two places - thanks to government capriciousness (boy is that a story!) - they are beginning to assert the story of their life in Yellowstone.
.. The Lemhi Shoshone have a nice web site at http://www.lemhi-shoshone.com/, and have included excellent details of their life and history on the site.
..The Shoshone folks that live at Fort Hall also have an excellent web site. It also contains their story and the history that the NPS so conviniently forgets. There is also a page about contemporary life called "REZ BRIEFS."

.. Perhaps the most famous Shoshone in history, from the conventional "American Perspective," is Sacajawea, the local girl with a baby that saved Lewis & Clark's expidition.
.. You can read the Shoshone perspective on this brave woman at the trailtribes.org web site. These are folks that are central to understanding the place of Yellowstone in North American History. They are also the pivotal people in the disemination of the horse in the American West. Of course as far as the NPS is concerned, the story of Yellowstone starts with white folks that "discovered" the stinking wasteland.
.. To be fair, there are some other folks that are white and that appreciate the place of the Shoshone People in the history and prehistory of the Yellowstone Plateau. You can read a bit about it at the Bitterroot Dude Ranch Site. At least someone has it right.