March 1, 2022, marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Yellowstone National Park. Signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant, America’s first national park was set aside to preserve and protect the scenery, cultural heritage, wildlife, geologic and ecological systems and processes in their natural condition for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
Yellowstone serves as the core of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the last and largest nearly intact natural ecosystems on the planet. Yellowstone has the most active, diverse, and intact collections of combined geothermal features with over 10,000 hydrothermal sites and half the world’s active geysers. The park is also rich in cultural and historical resources with 25 sites, landmarks and districts on the National Register of Historic Places.
Based on the park’s location at the convergence of the Great Plains, Great Basin, and Columbia Plateau, many Native American Tribes have traditional connections to the land and its resources. For over 10,000 years before Yellowstone became a national park, it was a place where Native Americans hunted, fished, gathered plants, quarried obsidian and used thermal waters for religious and medicinal purposes.
“Yellowstone’s 150th anniversary is an important moment in time for the world,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the lessons of the past while focusing our efforts to strengthen Yellowstone and our many partnerships for the future. I applaud and share the vision of Secretary Haaland and Director Sams on our responsibility to more fully engage with Tribal Nations to honor and learn from their ancestral and modern connections to Yellowstone.”
Beginning March 1, the park will host and participate in a wide range of activities to commemorate the 150th. The park has conducted substantial outreach to Native American Tribes, inviting them to participate directly in this anniversary. Multiple Tribal Nations will be present throughout the summer at Old Faithful as part of the Yellowstone Tribal Heritage Center project. Tribes are also coordinating with Yellowstone to install a large teepee village in the park near the Roosevelt Arch in August, where tribal members will interact directly with visitors about their cultures and heritage.
During this anniversary year, Yellowstone will open 40 new employee housing units throughout the park along with groundbreakings on projects totaling more than $125 million funded through the Great American Outdoors Act. These projects include two of the largest historic preservation projects in the country and a range of transportation projects that will address aging infrastructure. This year will also mark the reopening of Tower Fall to Chittenden Road (near Dunraven Pass), a $28 million road improvement project completed over the past two years.
The park will participate in the 15th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem hosted by Montana State University, the Wyoming Governor’s Hospitality and Tourism Conference, and the University of Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park 150 Anniversary Symposium. The park is also grateful to Wind River (Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho) and other Tribal Nations for planning a multi-tribal gathering on the Wind River Reservation later in the year.
Due to COVID-19, the park does not currently have large events planned; however, this may change as the year progresses.