Native Peoples

From Prehistory to Contemporary Life

Eleven thousand years of following bison, berries, and the seasons ended for native peoples in the 1800s, as America came looking for gold, farmland, and a manifest destiny. Only five of some two-dozen American Indian tribes that traveled Yellowstone’s trails were granted land here, collected onto three reservations.


“Our Shoshone people have ancient connections with Yellowstone. Many tribes were drawn to the heated waters that come from deep in the earth. Water is a great conductor of the spirit world, and the spiritual presence of this ancient water is especially strong.”

—Ren Freeman, Director, Eastern Shoshone Museum and Heritage Center, Fort Washakie, WY

“There’s a powerful feeling at our most sacred places, such as the medicine wheel in the Bighorn Mountains. My grandfather told stories about how the medicine wheel used to be much taller than it is now. But people took rocks from the wheel, maybe to take that feeling with them. We need to have respect, not just for Indian sacred sites, but for every place.”

—Jackie Yellowtail, coordinator, Apsaalooke Tours, Crow Agency, MT

“Like gatherings of the old days, people come from all over to our powwow. Dancing is the heart of the powwow, which includes horse relays, traditional games, and parades. Our traditions bring back the old ways, the old times, and keep our religion and our language alive."

—Delbert Farmer, elder, Shoshone Bannock Tribes, Fort Hall, ID

the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Tim O'Donoghue