Open thread for night owls: Blackfeet Nation seeks its own nat'l park east of Glacier Nat'l Park
Samantha Weber at the always terrific High Country News writes—The Blackfeet Nation is trying to open its own national park:
In 1992, Ed DesRosier wanted to offer visitors to Glacier National Park an experience that didn’t yet exist. Tourists learned about the park’s wildlife and the history of the iconic red tour buses that carried them to the park’s most breathtaking views. But the stories of the people who were connected to the landscape centuries before it became a tourist destination were not mentioned.
So DesRosier, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation in northwestern Montana, made it happen. But before he could become one of the few Indigenous people in the country licensed to operate a tour business in a national park, he would be arrested and have to fight in court for the right to tell the stories of his people and their home.
It’s easy to imagine DesRosier, whose energy belies his 65 years, captivating tourists at the helm of one of his 10 Sun Tours buses, which have become ubiquitous on Glacier’s main roads in the summer. His official business came after many not-so-official tours; the corporate entity in charge of concessions in Glacier refused to give him a license to tell the Blackfeet stories he knew, but he gave tours anyway. DesRosier was responding to a common problem: Despite the fact that they comprise the ancestral lands of hundreds of tribes, few national parks offer visitors the sort of nuanced Indigenous view that DesRosier wanted to provide.
The Blackfeet want to fix this problem, and others, in a dramatic way. The tribe is working toward that goal through myriad avenues, including a plan to become one of the few tribes in the country to open its own national park, a way to assert the tribe’s place in the region’s history, protect its natural resources and provide new economic opportunities to its members, mostly in Browning, home to approximately 1,000 people and the largest community on the Blackfeet Reservation.
“The invisibility of the Blackfeet has a way of eliminating our connection,” DesRosier said. He sees taking advantage of the park tourism economy as more than just a chance for his tribe to reassert its connection to the park, but also as an economic opportunity. Despite once owning half of Glacier and now sharing a border along some of its most breathtaking terrain, the Blackfeet Nation has not yet tapped into the booming national parks tourism economy in any significant way, though such tourism generated $18.2 billion in park gateway communities last year. That’s where Blackfeet tribal members see an opportunity.
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BLAST FROM THE PAST
On this date at Daily Kos in 2005—Top Army Officials in Prison Torture Scandal Cleared... by Army:
A high-level Army investigation has cleared four of the five top Army officers overseeing prison policies and operations in Iraq of responsibility for the abuse of detainees there, Congressional and administration officials said Friday.
Among the officers was Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who was the top commander in Iraq from June 2003 to July 2004. He was the highest-ranking officer to face allegations of leadership failure in connection with the scandal, but he was not accused of criminal misconduct.
Barring new evidence, the inquiry, by the Army's inspector general, effectively closes the Army's book on whether the highest-ranking officers in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal should be held accountable for command failings described in past reviews.
Only one of the top five officers, whose roles the Senate Armed Services Committee had asked the Army to review, has received any punishment. That officer, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, an Army Reserve officer who commanded the military police unit at the Abu Ghraib prison, was relieved of her command and given a written reprimand. She has repeatedly said she was made the scapegoat for the failures of superiors.
Why am I not surprised? The ACLU has called for an independent investigation. The usual disclaimers about breath and not holding it apply.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Seth Moulton is running for president, everybody! Greg Dworkin joined in a full 2 hour show on that exciting news, with a brief 119 minute detour into consideration of the censure, impeachment, and/or defeat of the current president.
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