Ethnology/Ethnography

Two Cowboys at Grant-Kohrs Ranch, NPS photoCulturally scarred tree, NPS photoTeepees at St. Mary, NPS photo

Ethnography is the study of people’s cultural systems or ways of life, and with the related technology, sites, structures, other material features, and natural resources. A major goal of managers in the National Park Service is to work jointly with peoples whose customary ways of life affect, and are affected by, the management of park resources.

Ethnographic resources are the natural and cultural features that are fundamental to how a group of people identifies itself. These resources can include landscapes, archeological sites and structures, plants and animals, and objects associated with routine or ceremonial activities, migration routes, or a culture’s heritage. Ethnographic resources connected with Glacier include sites associated with creation stories, prayer and fasting sites, and certain plants valued by tribal peoples.

At Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, a proposal has been presented to study the ethnography of the ranch to gain a better understanding of the tribes and cultures related to its history. The ethnographic resources at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument are not well documented, but the battle has become a significant symbolic event for two major cultures that seek to maintain individual values and ways of life. Managers of these resources are supported by the acknowledgement and continued understanding of the views and traditions of culturally diverse groups.