The Blackfeet Nation became the first ever tribal nation to be designated as a Tree City of the World by the Arbor Day Foundation community.
Members gathered at the Blackfeet Community College to join the Piikani tree planting ceremony, and celebrate a great honor among the tribe.
“We are gathered here today to start the being and bring back that culture and identity and spirit into our community,” said Termaine Edmo, a Climate Change Coordinator for the Blackfeet Tribe.
Tree City USA is a national program run by the Arbor Day Foundation that helps provide the framework for healthy and sustainable urban forestry in towns and communities. The Blackfeet Nation has previously been recognized as a Tree City of the USA for 7 years in a row. The Blackfeet Community College has also been recognized as a Tree Campus.
Jamie Kirby, an Urban and Community Forestry Program Manager, commended the tribe for being recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation, continuing about the progressive work and vision the nation has.
Kirby said, “Blackfeet Nation is the first tribal reservation, or nation, I would say in the world to become a Tree City of the World. It's huge. It’s just such a neat sense of pride to think that the Blackfeet have such an important connection to nature.”
Termaine went on to explain that the tribe’s commitment to restoring culture and connection with tribal traditional plants is what propelled the tribe into being a candidate for the Arbor Day World program.
“We put the little Piikani spin on it,” she said. “We did the cultural workshop where we talked about cotton, savage, hope, cherry and diamond willow and how the we kind of utilize them. And that was the only thing that set us aside from every other tree city.”
Sheri Bremner had originally gotten the tribe started with the Arbor Day programs, and since her passing, the Blackfeet dedicated a ceremonial tree planting in her honor as they gave away around 1500 tree seedlings to community members – the biggest tree planting ceremony to date.
“In the past it's been usually roughly three to 500 trees and now we're at 1,500. We've really had an amazing turnout.”
Growing with care, and rooted in tradition, it’s building up a community one tree at a time.
Termaine added, “These trees are happening in these plantings are getting bigger and bigger. And so, this is just the beginning of opening that door for future projects.”
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