As the sun reaches the crest of Peets Hill, beginning its final stage of descent toward the horizon, seven teepees topping the hill were illuminated, bathing the grassy slope in a vibrant array of colors. This was the scene that awaited those who made the trek up Peets Hill during the days surrounding Indigenous Peoples’ Day from Monday, Oct. ,to Monday, Oct. 18.
The teepees were an art installation by Mountain Time Arts, a local art organization with a mission to “enliven our relationships to the history, culture and environment of the Rocky Mountain West,” according to its website.
The purpose of the display was to “amplify and illuminate the presence of the original residents to prevent further erasure of Indigenous culture.”
One teepee was lit for every one of the seven tribal nations in Montana, each with a different color. The lighting of the teepees was one element of Bozeman’s recent push to further acknowledge and educate those about the land’s history, as it pertains to the history of Indigenous people living in the area. MSU has been a part of this effort with the recent opening of the American Indian Hall, as well as increased efforts to recognize the land and resources used by the university.
The lighting of the teepees represents only a small portion of the ongoing endeavor to shed light on the history of indigenous people in the area. While it is certainly one of the more readily visible elements of this campaign, it signals an ongoing shift in the general attitude in regards to the need to further Native American representation.