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New Peets Hill installation celebrates tribal history, identifies mountain peaks

Visitors celebrate the new mountain range finder and medicine wheel on Peets Hill
Ruth Eddy
Visitors celebrate on Tuesday at the the new mountain range finder and medicine wheel on Peets Hill

A new gathering spot in Bozeman helps orient residents to the Gallatin Valley’s mountains and recognizes regional tribal history.

The city park just south of Bozeman’s downtown is officially called Burke Park, but most people know it as Peets Hill. Standing at the top of the hillside filled with blooming lupine, arrowleaf balsamroot and sage, Bozeman Mayor Terry Cunningham welcomed a group under the threat of rain.

“The sidewalk in the sky is where we meet as neighbors, it’s where we recreate with our dogs, it’s where we bike, it’s where we run, it’s where we create community," Cunningham said.

For decades, the City of Bozeman has worked in partnership with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust to expand and upgrade Peet’s Hill.

The latest addition, unveiled Tuesday, June 18 is a medicine wheel and mountain range finder, at the crest of the hill looking out over Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley.

Dr. Shane Doyle shared the idea of including the medicine wheel design years ago and worked with GVLT to make it a reality.

“It’s tied to a way of life here in Montana. The people who came to live here learned to live here by moving around in a circle like this. In a sustainable way," Dr. Doyle said.

The concrete, quadrant circle is an interpretation of the traditional medicine wheel including the names of the federally recognized tribes in Montana.

Natural stones and concrete blocks surround the wheel with Metal mountain backrests. The metal mountains align with the actual mountains in the distance and help viewers recognize the peaks in the Bridger, Gallatin and Madison ranges.

GVLT Associate Director EJ Porth hopes the low profile installation can be used for quiet reflection, ceremonial healing, group picnics, outdoor classrooms and whatever the community needs. She said, “when you are here you know where you stand , both literally and figuratively, and you know you are home.”