The Billings Public Library entrance is a little more visually appealing following Monday morning’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Heritage Garden.
The garden is located next to the front doors of the library and is an attempt to reflect the community’s heritage, as well as to educate visitors before they step foot inside.
“The library is the cornerstone of our community, and the education begins at the parking lot now,” said Leslie Modrow, director of the library's foundation.
Some features of the garden include impressions of real Crow Rock Art and native plants from the area. Plants are labeled in both English and the Crow language.
“This land is historically Crow. And so to be able to bring that back and to remind all of us. Again, to begin the teaching and informing us, which libraries do, makes this all better,” Modrow said.
The plants will not be fully grown for about three years, but once they are mature, the library will be responsible for maintaining the area. It's a job that Library Director Gavin Woltjer describes as symbolic.
“If we’re making that commitment to this space, we’re also making that commitment to the Crow people, that this space will always be honored,” Woltjer said.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, there was also a special Crow blessing. The creation of the garden would not have been possible without the help of Crow representatives.
“We want to help keep this language alive. For those who live in our community, for those who were here before us,” Woltjer said.
The primary goal of the garden is to honor the Crow people; however, the area means much more to all the people of Billings.
“Because it’s a Heritage Garden it represents all of our heritage for this valley. And so it’s a celebration of all of us,” Modrow said.
With the commitment of the Billings Public Library, the Heritage Garden will be around for quite some time.
“It’s a gift. It’s just another gift to our community that we can all enjoy for years to come,” Modrow said.