Students Take Trip to Kootenai Falls

Students visit Kootenai FallsFor tribal people, place is an important component in the practice of their spirituality. After discussing barriers associated with practicing tribal spirituality over the course of the spring semester, five students from the Indian Religious Freedom and Sacred Sites class participated in a field trip to Kootenai Falls in Northwest Montana on May 3, 2015.

This area is a significant sacred sites for the Kootenai people and is the “heart of their spirituality” according to Pat Lefthand. These students gained a greater appreciation for the need to protect sacred sites as a result of this trip. They also recognized why the Salish and Kootenai Tribes joined in efforts opposing the proposed dam for this site in the late 1970’s. Due to legal efforts, Kootenai Falls remains the largest undammed falls in Montana. It also remains an area that Kootenai people can continue to access in connection with traditional religious practices.