Anniversary: Envision Mountain Goats For This Centennial

The Mountain Goat is the official symbol of Glacier National ParkTUESDAY, MAY 11: You may be hearing a lot about Montana today—and we’re not talking about Hannah Montana, the Disney superstar—we’re talking about the 100th anniversary of the designation of Glacier National Park, in Montana! On this date in 1910, Glacier National Park was designated as the 10th national park in the United States. Today comprised of more than 1,000,000 acres, sections of two mountain ranges, more than 1,000 different plant species—the original mountains of Glacier National Park were forming 170 million years ago. (Wikipedia has more.) The ancient structure of Glacier National Park is home to what many consider to be some of the best examples of early life on Earth, since they are fossilized so well. Despite the massively shrinking number of glaciers in the park, many of the land’s original plant and animal species still exist there.

The religious and cultural history of the people of Glacier National Park stretches back a very, very long time as well. It’s estimated that the first Native Americans arrived in the Glacier area approximately 10,000 years ago, namely ancestors of the Salish, Flathead, Shoshone and Cheyenne tribes. The Blackfeet arrived in the 18th century, and the modern Blackfeet Reservation borders the park today. Despite the Native American history, nearly 78 percent of the population considered to be a part of Glacier National Park today is Catholic. (Get more profile information here.)

Glacier National Park officials launched an official website for the 2010 celebration (read the official announcement from the National Park Service), where visitors can find the latest park information and event updates, such as the announcement for the May 11 Rededication of Glacier National Park. The Centennial Program has also compiled 100 stories from visitors and friends of Glacier National Park, creating a book entitled “A View Inside Glacier National Park.” Unfortunately, Glacier National Park also has sparked news headlines over the past few decades for another reason: According to the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the increase in the average temperature at Glacier National Park has been almost twice as much as that of the rest of the Earth. With glaciers melting faster than ever, scientists estimate that the glaciers could be gone altogether in 10 years.

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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