A nationwide tribute to honor those who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic began at 3:30pm Billings time today (Tuesday 1/19), and the illuminated teepees on Sacrifice Cliff will be part of this memorial tonight.

According to a press release from the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council (RMTLC), the teepees will light up from dusk to dawn for the National Moment of Unity and Remembrance, part of the Inauguration ceremonies for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

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The lighting of the teepees on Sacrifice Cliff at Swords Park will "honor those lost to the coronavirus and those lost to another pandemic brought almost two centuries ago to our Native lands," according to the press release.

Credit: Johnny Vincent, Townsquare Media

The "Beacons of Hope" illuminated teepees were displayed over the holidays in the same area of the Sacrifice Cliffs, to "provide comfort and healing to those who lost loved ones in 2020."

Today we return home, seeking refuge in our teepees, our beacons of hope. We share our grief, hope, strength and resolve with all those who have traveled on and those still among us. We will remember those taken by a merciless pestilence, and when we will tell their stories we will speak of how they lived when they walked among us. Like the Civil War nurse Walt Whitman, who observed while standing in the blood of the fallen that death can provide the ultimate reconciliation, we need not fear sisters Death and Night as they softly but incessantly wash again and ever again our soiled nation. -Tom Rodgers, a Blackfeet and president of the Global Indigenous Council

Across the country, many cities will illuminate local landmarks, including the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool featuring 400 lights, with one light for every 1000 Americans who died since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council represents every tribal nation in Montana, plus tribes in Idaho and Wyoming, as well as the Piikani Nation in Canada.

Nearby National Parks at Night