Imagine pulling a clan up the Little Missouri River in dugout canoes 12,000 years ago.
At least 23 prehistoric sites near Devils Tower National Monument, some of which are archaeological sites eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, are at risk to a proposed 8000-acre expansion of Australia’s largest U.S. aquifer uranium mining operation.
Researchers noted that the Little Missouri River, traditionally called Wakpa Chan Shoka and Hehaka Ta Wakpa (River of the Elk) by Native Americans, originates within the project area. It is designated as a wild and scenic river in North Dakota where it crosses through Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Little Missouri National Grasslands. A very large prehistoric camp site is situated on a high terrace from which Mato Tipila is visible to the east. [Native Sun News]With the Oglala Lakota Nation as an interested party Chief Arvol Looking Horse has submitted a request to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names saying the words “Devils Tower” are a malapropism.
The tower, part of the Black Hills Land Claim, is a remnant of an intrusive laccolith and has been called Mahto Tipila or Bear Lodge for centuries by the Lakota.
Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, has a family ranch at the base of the tower. “If they want to find something offensive, they ought to look at Custer, South Dakota,” he said. “Custer obviously had a problem with the Sioux, and I’ve heard nothing about renaming of Custer, South Dakota.” [Laura Hancock]Exploiting the gap between the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets during the Wisconsin Glacial Episode the Clovis People were the first humans to see the Missouri Buttes and Mato Tipila. They settled Paradise only to have their descendants watch it be destroyed by colonizers like Ogden Driskill and his ancestors.
The ancestors of all American Indians living east of the Rocky Mountains saw that peak when the Clovis Culture crossed into the Cheyenne/Belle Fourche drainage then into the Missouri/Mississippi River system. Lakota is an Algonquin-based tongue and is spoken by a majority of South Dakota’s tribal nations. After migrating into present-day North Carolina and forced westward by manifest destiny then acquiring horses from Spanish exploiters the Lakota reclaimed the Black Hills.
The divide between the Little Missouri and the Belle Fourche drainages is not very wide: less than a mile just west of the Missouri Buttes.
In January, the US Forest Service suspended the Draft Environmental Impact Study for a Wyoming Black Hills mountaintop-removal mine for rare earth minerals in the Belle Fourche watershed.
Australian miners abandoned a mountaintop-removal gold mine in the Black Hills leaving a Superfund site in its place.
In the occupied Black Hills of South Dakota descendants of European colonizers are apoplectic over the proposal to restore the state's highest point to its Lakota name, Hinhan Kaga or A Making of Owls.
Senator Lisa Murkowski and the US Park Service are doing what Alaskans are asking of Congress urging the body to approve a name change for North America's highest peak.
The Athabascan name, meaning “the high one,” has been a bone of contention between Alaska’s congressional delegation and Ohio’s, which has sought to preserve the current name honoring assassinated U.S. president William McKinley. “At home in Alaska, we just call it Denali because it’s part of our history,” Murkowski said, according to the statement. “Officially changing the name from Mount McKinley to Mount Denali will show the long-standing significance that the name Denali holds for Alaskans.” [KTUU teevee]Restoring the dignity of endangered cultures is one tiny part of eliminating suicides and despair in South Dakota and Wyoming.
Corridors over public and private land to the Fork Peck, Crow, and Northern Cheyenne nations then into Wyoming's Thunder Basin National Grassland (where this proposed mining expansion is located) beyond to North and South Dakota would help create the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge.
ip photo: Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower at sunset. Click on the image for a better look.
Northeast Wyoming and @DevilsTowerNM. Video created from merged panorama of photos during my previous flight.https://t.co/5qohCnRq27— Jeff Williams (@Astro_Jeff) March 10, 2016