Yellowstone at 150: Can Indigenous Stewardship Save Our Parks?

150 years after Congress established Yellowstone National Park, it remains the jewel of a system that comprises some 400 national parks. But for Indigenous Americans, the history is bitter. Thousands were forced to leave, families were massacred, and the Army was brought in to exclude Native Americans. Today, as droughts, floods and fires threaten the parks, many are calling for Indigenous control. Indigenizing the National Parks wouldn’t just be morally and legally right, but it just might be what saves the parks for future generations. Wes Martel of the Eastern Shoshone, and Valerie Grussing, Executive Director of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers — fill Laura in on a recent Inter-Tribal Gathering that examined this question. What do Indigenous people want for the future?

“We’re in this together for reconciliation and healing. When one of us isn’t whole, then none of us are whole. It impacts all of us — the healing that needs to happen to address generational trauma.” – Valerie Grussing

“We must let people know we’re still here. We’re going to be here forever. And we want our rightful place in this country’s economic and social picture.” – Wes Martel


  • Valerie Grussing: Executive Director, National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
  • Wes Martel: Eastern Shoshone/Northern Arapaho; Senior Wind River Conservation Associate, Greater Yellowstone Coalition-Ft. Washakie Office
  • Faith Spotted Eagle*: Ihanktonwon Dakota Elder & Co-Founder Brave Heart Society, Activist, Yankton Sioux Nation

*Hear Faith Spotted Eagle at the Wind River Inter-Tribal Gathering.

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