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Group faults Park Service for leaving out tribes

Tribes should play a greater role in the presentation of their history at Fort Laramie, an Army fort where two major treaties were signed, a conservation group said on Thursday.

The National Parks Conservation Association stops short of calling for tribal control of the Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming. But the group recommends the National Park Service do a better job at including the Indian viewpoint.

�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 Patti Borneman, the group's Northern Rockies coordinator.

The major treaties were signed at Fort Laramie, in 1851 and 1868. The more famous is the 1868 treaty that reserved much of the Dakotas for the Sioux Nation but which was later abrogated to allow for gold mining and non-Indian settlement. The Lakota tribes eventually lost the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota.

Despite this history, the State of the Parks report issued yesterday says Fort Laramie doesn't include the Indian perspective. Instead, all the information is focused on the military aspect of the site, according to the report.

"The park includes very little interpretation of the complex relationships between American Indians and the American military and settlers, in part, because there is little physical evidence to aid interpretation of the subject," the report states. "This lack of physical evidence should not prevent the park from fully exploring these relationships."

One of the problems with the lack of Indian input is that the NPS hasn't conducted a study on the tribes related to the site, the report says. The Arapaho, Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Crow, Cheyenne, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes were among the signatories to the treaties.

During treaty negotiations, tribes set up camps near the fort and along the Laramie River. But the NPS says there hasn't been an attempt to identify these locations and work with tribes on what should be done to preserve them.

Historically, the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes also used the area around the fort to hunt and trade.

Overall, the report gives the Fort Laramie site a score of 65, or "fair," for its cultural resources management. The site received a score of 56, or "poor," for stewardship.

Read the Report:
Ft. Laramie National Historic Site | More State of the Parks

Relevant Links:
1851 Treaty site -
Dakota Lakota Nakota Coalition -
Fort Laramie National Historic Site -
National Parks Conservation Association -
Fort Laramie Historical Association -