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Missoula PD, CSKT respond to Beartracks Bridge sign vandalism

Beartracks Bridge Sign Vandalism
Posted at 2:39 PM, Mar 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-28 11:59:58-04

MISSOULA – We have follow-up coverage from the vandalism over the weekend to one of the interpretive signs on Beartracks Bridge.

Outrage sparked on social media Sunday as a photo showed one of the signs ripped out of the ground and tossed down a nearby set of stairs.

When MTN News went to the scene on Sunday, we found a lot of turned up soil in the spot, as if someone had dragged the sign across the sidewalk.

Missoula Police Department spokeswoman Whitney Bennett called the incident a crime of opportunity and embarrassing for the city.

However, Bennett stopped short of calling it a hate crime, because the sign wasn't defaced, and only the one was damaged.

Missoula Parks and Recreation have the sign currently, but no plans to reinstall it have been made public for now.

The signs are relatively new, having been revealed last year during the dedication of the bridge to Grizzly Beartracks who was a prominent member of the Salish tribe.

The signs educate the public about the importance of the land to Indigenous people, and the checkered relationship between European migrants and Native tribes.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Chairman Tom McDonald released a statement about the incident, which said in part, "the Tribes are saddened to learn about the vandalism of the interpretative signage at the Beartracks Bridge. Our elders and staff put so much time into developing these special signs."

"We also appreciate the strong sentiment by many in the community who have reached out in support of our efforts to create [a] meaningful partnership and educational resources for the community about the Indigenous people who have lived on this landscape since time immemorial," the statement continued.