Dispatches from the Road: Crown of the Continent, Day 3 - Native Science, Species Reintroduction, Protecting Sacred Spaces

IMG_0344 - Version 2 On Friday, the group began the morning with a discussion about multimedia journalism with embedded multi-media guru Mike Scott.

Following the discussion, the journalists headed north to Browning, on the Blackfeet Reservation, where they gathered at the Blackfeet Community College to learn about the Native Science Field Center, where traditional knowledge of plants, animals, places, stories, and language in taught alongside western science to students of all ages. The group also heard about natural resource education and management on the reservation, concerns and ambiguity about oil and gas development, and the Iinnii Initiative, a multi-agency, inter-tribal, transboundary working group that is attempting to bring free-ranging bison back to the Front Range.

Members of the Native Science Field Center and the Iinnii Initiative discuss traditional knowledge, western science, and bison reintroduction at Blackfeet Community College.

Panelists in this discussion included Helen Augare-Carlson, director of the Native Science Field Center; Melissa Weatherwax, also with the Native Science Field Center; Terry Tatsey, director of USDA programs at Blackfeet Community College; Keith Tatsey, USDA equity project coordinator; Keith Aune, senior bison conservationist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and coordinator of the Iinnii Initiative; and Leroy Littlebear, Native American Studies professor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.

Beaver pond in the Badger-Two Medicine, looking north towards Glacier National Park.

The journalists next visited the Badger-Two Medicine, a unique parcel of land adjacent to the Reservation and Glacier National Park. This area is culturally important to the Blackfeet, and is ecologically important as well, but has been threatened by oil and gas development and ATV use in the past. Motorized vehicle use is now banned in the area, and oil exploration has largely stopped, but not all subsurface leases have been relinquished, and the possibility of drilling in the future remains very real.

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After hiking into the Badger-Two Medicine, the Fellows heard from Jack Gladstone, Blackfeet tribal member, about the tribe's origin stories and traditional beliefs. He also treated them to an impromptu, trail-side concert. Gladstone was joined by Kendall Flint, president of the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance; Mary Riddle with Glacier National Park; Lou Bruno, also with the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance; and Steve Thompson, with the Cinnabar Foundation.

The Badger-Two Medicine.