Archive for June 15th, 2012
Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin spent the day in the Mission Mountain Wilderness to celebrate its 30th birthday:
ST. IGNATIUS – One of the iconic views on the Flathead Indian Reservation comes when northbound vehicles top Ravalli Hill west of here, and the snow-capped Mission Mountains explode into view and rise thousands of feet from the valley floor.
There’s a reason the view doesn’t include clearcuts and roads winding up the mountains, and they threw that reason a birthday party Thursday.
The 93,000-acre Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness turned 30 years old.
It was a first – no American Indian tribe had ever before designated its own lands to forever remain wilderness – but it wasn’t the first time the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes had moved to protect the western front of the Missions.
The very first Tribal Council, back in 1936, had tried to establish an Indian-maintained national park there. It was an idea that had the backing of the local Bureau of Indian Affairs superintendent, but the proposal died on a desk in Washington, D.C.
Nearly half a century later, a “very courageous” Tribal Council, Germaine White said, voted to establish the nation’s first tribal wilderness area where the national park would have been.
See more photos and a video from the 30th anniversary celebration.