By Gabriel Furshong, The Nation
Supporters gather at a theater next to the courthouse to watch the court proceedings for the nation’s first youth climate change trial at Montana’s First Judicial District Court on June 12, 2023, in Helena, Mont. (William Campbell / Getty Images)
HELENA, MONT. — Four years ago, Shane Doyle spoke at a climate action rally in Bozeman. Afterward, a Montana State University (MSU) student approached him to ask whether his three daughters would consider joining a climate lawsuit against the state. He struggled with the decision. “It’s hard as a parent,” said Doyle, an Indigenous educator with a doctorate from MSU. “What are you supposed to do? Try to allow them to live a normal childhood, or do you confront them with the brutal truth: Your childhood is not going to be normal”?
In the end, he let them decide. Together, they talked about how their lives had been affected by wildfire smoke, drought, and storms. As members of the Crow Tribe, some of their concerns tied back to traditional practices. “We were seeing the effects of climate change in our daily lives,” said Ruby Doyle, who is now 15 years old, “and on the traditions we have as a family, like chokecherry picking and Crow Fair.”
A seasonal gathering of tribal members on the Yellowstone River, Crow Fair has been plagued by intense heat, wildfire smoke, and flooding in recent years, extreme weather conditions that have also impacted wild chokecherries, according to Doyle.