CRAZY MOUNTAINS – The Custer Gallatin National Forest is currently revising its management plan, and the Crow Tribe wants a say when it comes to the Crazy Mountains.
The Crazies have a spiritual and historical significance to the Crow Tribe.
“Well, they are one of the most important places that individuals have gone to seek dreams, fast for dreams, fast for power, the spiritual power that they can use in their life,” said Crow Tribe member Shane Doyle, EdD.
Drafted in 1987, the current forest plan does not protect any part of the Crazy Mountains as recommended wilderness.
The Forest Service is considering whether to leave the plan the way it is or to protect thousands of acres of the mountain range, which would prohibit development, road building, and motorized use.
Advocacy group Citizens for Balanced Use believe by not allowing development and multiple uses on public lands, it’s limiting access to everyone.
“Talk about the elderly, you know, the grandfathers wanting to take their grandkids out. Many of them don’t have the physical ability to do that, so that’s why this access and roads are important,” Citizens for Balanced Use Executive Director Kerry White said.
But the Crow Tribe believes leaving the area untouched is highly important to their religion and culture.
“Well, I think that we’ve already lost so much over the past 150 years of our traditional homeland and our culture, and that’s one of the few areas that are still pretty much pristine. A lot of the sacred places high up in the peaks are still the same way they were and we can have an opportunity now to make sure they stay that way for the next 30 years,” Doyle said.
White says the federal government is not supposed to give preference to one religion.
“Because this is our spiritual place we practice our religion there that no one should be able to have that spiritual experience so I think its wrong for them to use religion as a way to close people out,” White said.
The Forest Service is currently reviewing public comment and says it will take several months to review all of them.
Story by Emma Hamilton, MTN News