New Study Says Indian History Inadequate at Wyoming Fort

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 29, 2004
Contact:   Patti Borneman, NPCA Northern Rockies Program Coordinator, P: 406-495-1560, ext. 2
Darcy Gamble, NPCA Associate Director, State of the Parks, P: 970-493-2545
Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA Media Relations, P: 202-454-3332


New Study Says Indian History Inadequate at Wyoming Fort

Washington, D.C. - Although its legacy continues to play a pivotal role in the lives of Plains Indians, Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming does not yet adequately interpret this history for visitors, according to a new report released today by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).

“The whole, difficult story about the U.S. Government and American Indians must be told at Fort Laramie, because this is the place where important parts of that story took place,” said NPCA’s Northern Rockies Program Coordinator Patti Borneman.

Originally an outpost for trading furs with local tribes, Fort Laramie was later a refueling stop for emigrants and a military outpost during the Indian Wars. It was also the site where several tribes signed two treaties with the U.S. Government, both of which were later breached to allow for faster settlement of the West and gold mining on sacred Indian lands. The fort was incorporated into the National Park System in 1938.

NPCA’s new State of the Parks® report recommends that the National Park Service establish relationships with the tribes that were affected by the fort and, in particular, the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868. The report suggests that this would allow the Park Service to better understand and interpret for the public the considerable influence of Fort Laramie on the fate of 19th century tribes, as well as contemporary Indian culture and politics. Currently, much of the visitor information at Fort Laramie focuses on the fort’s restored buildings and ruins, which represent the fort’s military history. Regrettably, Fort Laramie currently does not offer the American Indians’ perspective, even though Indians lived nearby the fort during its heyday, and it continues to hold great significance in American Indian culture.

“The National Park Service is entrusted by the nation to preserve our shared history and culture and must, even in the most difficult circumstances, do so,” Borneman added.

NPCA launched the landmark State of the Parks program in 2000 to assess the condition of natural and cultural resources in national parks across the country. The product of an eight-month analysis, “Fort Laramie National Historic Site: A Resource Assessment,” is the15th State of the Parks report.

The full report and additional information about the State of the Parks program are available at www.npca.org/stateoftheparks

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