A Good Home: Honoring the Tipi at Pompeys Pillar National Monument

Story by Jaime Tompkins, Outdoor Recreation Planner (NLCS), Montana/Dakotas State Office

The tipi exhibit located near the Pompeys Pillar National Monument Interpretive Center has some exciting new enhancements. New graphics, new interpretive panels and eight colorful tribal flags now flank the glass

Tipi and tribal flags
Eight tribal flags represent the eight tribes found in
Montana. Photo by John Reffit, PPNM Manger

tipi-shaped structure.

This exhibit is one of the first things that catches visitors’ attention as they approach the center. One of its goals is to help visitors draw connections with the tribal legacy at the site through a very powerful universal truth: the importance of home, family, and hospitality.

The images used on the eight glass tipi panels are photographs taken in the early 20th century by Richard Throssel. Throssel’s work captured day to day activities and honored traditions, mostly of the Crow Tribe, but also of the Northern Cheyenne and Blackfeet tribes. Many thanks and credit to the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center which allowed the use of these images for this project.

During the spring, summer and early fall months, flags representing the eight tribes of Montana will be flown next to the exhibit. Two new interpretive signs identify the eight flags and emphasize the significance of the tipi to Northern Plains tribes.

Monument Manager John Reffit says the display is much more than just pictures and flags.

“It is my hope that this exhibit will improve the awareness of those visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument by emphasizing the history and legacy of Native American Indians.”

Salish-Kootenai College intern Zach Gray and Montana Conservation Corps Conservation Intern Marissa Sly, who are both tribal members, played critical roles in ensuring the authenticity of each flag by working with historians from each of the eight Montana tribes.

Site enhancements were made possible in part through the Executive Program project funding for workforce diversity, and the work of summer interns Zack Gray (Salish Kootenai College) and Marissa Sly (Montana Conservation Corps), Park Ranger Sonni Hope, and Monument Manager John Reffit. Additional funding and assistance came through the Friends of Pompeys Pillar partnership.

Tribal Flags
Two new interpretive signs recently added to the tipi
display at Pompeys Pillar National Monument highlight
the flags and culture of the eight Montana tribes.

A good home