Montanans of every heritage are invited to celebrate the Grand Opening of Montana's newest state park visitor center at Ulm Pishkun on Saturday, June 5, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The grand opening celebration will include a traditional mini-powwow, round dances and honor songs, Native American craft and game demonstrations, and a dedication ceremony led by Gov. Marc Racicot and Native American elders.
The Native American Center of Great Falls and the Downtown Optimists Club will serve buffalo burgers and Indian tacos, and several Native American groups also will serve feasts to which the public is invited.
Ulm Pishkun is one of Montana's largest and most important buffalo jump sites, where ancient people of the Northern Plains hunted buffalo before horses were re-introduced to North America. Though historians and archaeologists do not know who the ancient people were who used these cliffs as a buffalo jump between the years 900 and 1500, the site is important to many of Montana's Native tribes. The jump site became a state park in 1972. The visitor center, which was built last winter, is designed to illuminate the history of the buffalo jump and to protect the site from damage.
"The cliffs of Ulm Pishkun have been a gathering place for many people of many tribes for thousands of years, and this celebration will carry on that multi-cultural tradition," said Pat Graham, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. "The ancestors of nearly every tribe in Montana used this place at one time or another. It also was an important area in Montana's history--to settlers, historians, archaeologists and local residents. In that way, Ulm Pishkun is precious to everyone."
The June 5 festivities will begin at 11 a.m. and the dedication ceremony is set for 1 p.m. The mini-powwow will begin at 3:30 p.m. and continue until dusk. Visitors will be guided to parking areas along the road leading to the visitor center. Drop-off access will be available to the parking lot for elders and handicapped visitors. People should dress for the weather, and expect wind and sun.
"We are expecting a big crowd, so we ask everyone's help in protecting this place and honoring all those who treasure it," Graham said. "We hope a lot of people will join the celebration, and then will come back later in the summer for a more leisurely visit."
In honor of the grand opening, FWP is waiving the Ulm Pishkun entrance fees on June 5 and 6.
The Ulm Pishkun Visitor Center is 3.5 miles northwest of I-15 from the Ulm exit, about 10 miles southwest of Great Falls. The visitor center will be open every day from Memorial Day to September 30, and will offer a variety of special programs throughout the summer.