Led by spiritual leaders of the Blackfoot Confederacy, tribal leaders from across North America will gather at Rising Sun in Glacier National Park on Friday, Aug. 12 to hold a prayer ceremony for the grizzly bear, which is considered sacred by tribes across the continent. The event will begin at 2 p.m.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed removing federal protections under the Endangered Species Act for grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone region.
Through a limited drawing, hunters could have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to kill a grizzly bear in Montana during a spring and fall season if the animal is delisted.
Tribal governments have expressed opposition on the basis of sovereignty, treaty, spiritual, and religious freedom violations.
“Our brother, the grizzly bear, is the power of our people. He is the only brother that was a human being in his time on Mother Earth. The grizzly bear is not only equal to, but also far superior to us pitiful humans. To kill the grizzly is to kill our own kind,” said James “Jimmy” St. Goddard, a traditional chief of the Blackfeet Nation and vice chairman of Guardians of Our Ancestors’ Legacy (GOAL) Tribal Coalition.
Tribal Nations opposed to the delisting and trophy hunting will appear in Glacier National Park for the ceremony honoring grizzlies. GOAL’s Chairman, David Bearshield, will be in attendance. In addition to Chief St. Goddard and Chairman Bearshield, Chief Bryan Yellow Horn from the Blackfoot Confederacy, Chief Dancing Thunder, a leader from the Iroquois Confederacy, and Carol Bubay, elder and matriarch from the Flathead Indian Reservation, will be among those participating in the ceremony.
“Quite simply, the delisting announcement ensures that the grizzly bear will never be a recovered species. This is all political smoke and mirrors,” insists Bearshield. “Tribal nations are the only hope for linkage zones between the two main grizzly populations. Any migration will cease as soon as the grizzly is trophy hunted,” Bearshield stated.