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"Native America Speaks" Program Offers Park Visitors Cultural Insight

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Date: July 17, 2009
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406-888-5838
Contact: Wade Muehlhof, 406-888-7895

WEST GLACIER, MONT. - Glacier National Park continues nearly 30 years of hosting a variety of educational programs about local Indian culture through its “Native America Speaks” (NAS) program this summer. The program has been recognized nationally by the Council for American Indian Interpretation for “Excellence in the Interpretation of American Indian Culture.” As part of the NAS program, Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai tribal members share their knowledge of the history and culture of Native America, through 45-minute presentations at various locations.

Two new presenters join the program this year. Brad Hall is a member of the Blackfeet Nation and has lived on Blackfeet tribal land his entire life. He’s also worked in Glacier National Park as a Park Ranger-Interpreter in the Interpretation and Education Division. Edward North Peigan is also new to the program this year. Hall is an educator and teaches Native American languages to youth and adults. He is fluent in the languages of his tribe both north and south of the Canadian/Montana border.

Five presenters return to the program, including Jack Gladstone, who in 1985 co-founded Glacier National Park’s “Native America Speaks” program. Gladstone is a Grammy-nominated member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe of Montana. Kenneth Eagle Speaker is of Blackfoot and Blackfeet descent and is a gifted interpreter and culturist on behalf of the Peigan/Blood and Blackfeet traditional and contemporary cultures. Ernie Heavy Runner is a member of the Blackfeet Nation and is a singer, story teller and entertainer. Heavy Runner uses these skills to share the ways of nature and the circle of life, as it applies to his culture. Vernon Finely is a member of the Kootenai tribe, and works for the Kootenai Cultural Committee. Gen Huitt is Pend d’Oreille and gives presentations on the west side of the park. The Two Medicine Lake Dancers and Drummers round out the program.

All Native American interpretive programs offered at Glacier National Park are made possible through a generous donation from the Glacier Association (GA). As an official partner of the park, the association is authorized by the National Park Service to sell educational materials and publications in park visitor centers and ranger stations. Each year GA contributes a generous portion of their revenue to the park to support interpretive and educational programming.

The NAS programs run through early Sept. at various locations in the park. A schedule is attached.

- NPS -

Did You Know?

Gunsight Mtn

In 1976, Glacier National Park was designated as a World Biosphere Reserve. This designation recognizes Glacier’s intact ecosystem as a valuable place for sound research and education to take place in a sustainable manner.