By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
The approach of the 150th anniversary of the nation’s first national park provides an opportunity for those involved with the park to look to the future, according to Yellowstone National Park Supervisor Cam Sholly.
During a virtual news conference Thursday, Sholly joined Xanterra Parks and Resorts Marketing Director Rick Hoeninghausen and Scott Frazier, director of Project Indigenous, to discuss plans for the anniversary celebration and reflect on its significance.
“It’s a time for us to reflect on the lessons of the past, but at the same time, really focus on the future,” said Sholly, “and how we can work together to protect and strengthen Yellowstone for the next 150 years.”
Sholly pointed out that Yellowstone is not only America’s first national park, but it’s the first national park in the world.
“In many ways, Yellowstone is the genesis of the national park idea,” he said. “It’s also really one of the first examples of this country’s recognition that conservation and preservation of high value resources is important and should be a major priority.”
Part of the focus of the anniversary, according to Sholly, will be to celebrate the role that Yellowstone played in the culture of indiginous tribes.
“We’re putting a heavy emphasis on this area and the fact that many tribes were here thousands of years before Yellowstone became a park,” he said. “Later this year, multiple tribal nations will participate in installing a teepee village near the Roosevelt Arch that should occur in August. This will be an opportunity for multiple tribal nations to be here on the landscape in the park, directly interfacing with visitors and talking about and educating visitors about their culture and their heritage.”
He added that a tribal heritage center will be installed at Old Faithful near the visitor center.
“I’m also very grateful for the tribal nations at the Wind River (reservation) for planning a multi-tribal gathering for the 150th that will be scheduled later this year,” he added.
Frazier, director of Project Indigenous, is a 72-year-old resident of Montana and a member of the Crow Tribe. He said that people are drawn to the 2.2 million-acre park because it is a sacred place.
“When I was a little kid, we had heroes, you know – Tarzan, and Lone Ranger… and Yellowstone,” Frazier said. “Something was there that you needed to go see. It was calling you — Yellowstone.” He noted that the memories made during visits to Yellowstone could shape a person’s life.“
Some people, they come and they forget their lives for a minute,” Frazier said. “People are drawn to this, because it’s a sacred place. It speaks to the people’s heart and to their soul.”
Rick Hoeninghausen, the marketing director for Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone, said that the 150th anniversary is a chance to celebrate what he called “America’s best idea.”
“This inspiration has contributed to science, art, music, literature, and so much more,” he noted. “While natural attractions, including scenery, geothermal features and wildlife are predominantly what Yellowstone’s known for, the trend for rustic National Park architecture, sometimes called ‘Parkitecture,’ was also largely inspired by Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn.”
Hoeninghausen pointed out that the area now known as Yellowstone has inspired many generations of people.
“My hope today, and going forward, is that we can ensure that we continue to do so for many more future generations,” he said.
Hoeninghausen announced that on May 6, Xanterra, working with their partners in the Park Service, will be hosting a public event to commemorate the Park’s 150th summer season.
The event will feature a Native American art exhibition and marketplace in the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn, along with free tours of the Old Faithful area in the roll-back-top yellow buses.
For more information on the events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Park, Hoeninghausen directed visitors to Xanterra’s website (https://www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com) and social media channels.