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National Forest Week: Crow Tribe Celebrates Recognition in MT Forest

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020   

HELENA, Mont. -- It's National Forest Week, and members of the Crow Tribe are celebrating recognition of a special place in Montana.

In the U.S. Forest Service's final draft of its Custer Gallatin National Forest plan released last week, the agency recognized the cultural and spiritual significance of the Crazy Mountains, designating it an "Area of Tribal Interest."

Shane Doyle, a Crow tribal member and founder of Native Nexus Consulting, said the "Crazies," as they're known locally, are a ceremonial site.

"We've been going to fast there for many hundreds of years, since time immemorial," he said, "and it's always been a concern among the Crow people that at some point we might lose that opportunity."

The Custer Gallatin plan recognizes only the southern part of the Crazies. The Forest Service did not include the cultural significance of the northern part in its Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest plan from May.

Ideally, Doyle said, the tribe would like to see both sections recognized, but he noted that the region in the Custer Gallatin National Forest is most significant.

"Our main area of focus was the historic sites, where so many historic figures have gone and attained noteworthy blessings," he said.

Doyle said it's important to protect this place for the future.

"It's part of our heritage," he said, "and we want to continue to be able to offer that opportunity to young people as the generations go by."

People and organizations that commented on the forest plans earlier in the process still can submit objections to the final plans. The deadlines are Monday for the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, and Sept. 8 for the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

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Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.


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