Built by the Northern Pacific Railroad in order to lure passengers to buy tickets to Montana, the Glacier Park Lodge is both frontier-style grandiose and a monument to ‘Americans’ claiming land to displace and permanently destroy Blackfeet Indians.
I remember seeing this as a teenager. The towering timbers lining the resort lobby, the log balcony railings, the rustic tables and benches are similar to resorts around the west built in the early 1900s. Grand Canyon Lodge, Timberline Hotel on Mt. Hood, Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone and many others are almost interchangeable.
What stands out about Glacier Park Lodge are the teepees and wooden Indian statues. During the height of the lodge’s heyday the Blackfeet Tribe performed ceremonies blessing new locomotives and performed ritual/ceremonial dances for the tourists. The Northern Pacific Railroad extensively used Blackfeet imagery in advertising to promote their thriving tourism business. It worked. This was one of the most successful railroad destination resorts in the country.
On the one hand I can see the value for the Blackfeet Tribe to make money from the tourists. On the other hand I can’t help feel it’s exploitive. What I haven’t found yet in the many historical displays is acknowledgment that the railroad brought with it the destruction of the life Blackfeet had known for many hundreds of years.
Change happens. One group of people dominates another group. It’s happened since the beginning of the homo genus. I suppose our ancestors didn’t care about decimating other cultures because they were the victors in the race war. The American culture of 2020s is finally paying attention to what we did in the past.
I’m surprised Glacier Park Lodge hasn’t updated their history displays since the previous century. Everything changes, which means things must change to adapt to the present moment.
In other news, the train ride was wonderful. I look forward to a greasy burger at a joint in the village. My return journey starts this evening around 6.
Internet service is nearly non-existent. And that’s okay. I’ll catch up with you when I return home tomorrow afternoon.