KALISPELL – Tribal leaders from across North America are gathering in Glacier National Park in honor of the grizzly bear, which is considered sacred by tribes across the continent.

The group held a prayer ceremony for the animal Friday. The event was to be led by spiritual leaders from the Blackfoot Confederacy, which comprises Blackfeet tribes in Canada and the tribe in northwestern Montana.

The meeting comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed lifting threatened-species protections for grizzlies in the Yellowstone National Park area.

Tribal governments opposed to the plan have expressed concerns about sovereignty, tribal and religious freedom violations.

Traditional chief of the Blackfeet Nation James "Jimmy" St. Goddard told the Flathead Beacon that "to kill the grizzly is to kill our own kind."

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