Old Faithful, Wyoming - Tom Wadsworth read straight from the 154-year-old treaty that displaced his ancestors from their land as he made a case that Shoshone and Bannock tribal members should be allowed to hunt, fish and gather inside Yellowstone National Park. Signed at Fort Bridger on July 3, 1868 in what’s now southern Wyoming, the treaty granted the Shoshone and Bannock native people the right to “hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States” in perpetuity, so long as game was found and peace with white people maintained. Yet, today, with a few exceptions, hunting isn’t allowed by tribal members or anyone else in Yellowstone or the rest of the National Park Service’s 400-plus units in the Lower 48. Wadsworth, the captain game warden for the Shoshone-Bannock tribes, suggested the federal government didn’t uphold its end of the deal.
Recently, former President Obama launched a Netflix series celebrating national parks and their breathtaking views. One of the parks he zoomed in on was the 2.2 million acre Yellowstone National Park, describing it as a park that is “fundamental to our national identity.” But underneath the beauty of Yellowstone lies an ugly history of union-busting and intimidation by government contractors of National Park Service workers, the ones who labor to keep the park beautiful — a legacy that Obama failed to curb as president and one that Joe Biden has yet to address as the current occupant of the White House.