Picture this: You’ve broken trail up 1500 vertical feet of deep powder high in the Beartooth Mountains and reached the summit. All the world lies at your feet as the sun sinks into a sea of snowy peaks. You soak in the silence, the splendor, the serenity. You rip the skins off your skis, grin at your partner, and drop in.

Those were the days. In the 1980s, backcountry skiing out of Cooke City, Montana, provided access to endless untracked snow on moderate terrain. The snow falls soft and deep all winter in Cooke, located just beyond the northeastern gate of Yellowstone National Park. I would go with friends every winter for fresh tracks and quiet mountain adventures.

In an emotional ceremony this month, the Minnesota Historical Society officially returned 114 acres along the Minnesota River bluffs to the Lower Sioux Indian Community.

The land transfer, approved by the Legislature in 2017, became official Feb. 12, returning about half of the southern Minnesota property around the nonprofit's historic site to the tribe.

More than six decades after a 1,705-acre patchwork of meadows, wetlands and timberland in southern Oregon was taken from the Klamath Tribes, the Native American community has found its way back to the territory – by way of the real estate market. Over the summer, the tribes discovered the land was up for sale, so as part of their large-scale effort to reacquire territory that was historically theirs, they prepared an offer. Although another buyer nearly swooped in, the tribes’ purchase more than doubles their current holdings, and extends their territory to the base of Yamsay Mountain, an important site for prayer and spiritual journeys for the community.

 © 2020 George Wright Society


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