For my second post I would love to write about Bear Lodge Butte or more commonly known as Devils Tower. This is interesting for several reasons because there is a lot of stories based around this National monument. It is really quite an impressive site to behold when people go there. I can remember going with my dad and two younger sisters, Aubrey and Macy, and just thinking that it was something you didn’t see every day. It is this igneous rock that sticks out in the Black Hills region of North Eastern Wyoming.
So this site is sacred to the Lakota people as well as being referenced by the Cheyennes, Arikaras, Arapahos, and Crows. “The name refers to an old myth, widely told on the northern Plains, about the formation of both Bear Lodge Butte and the Black Hills. As a girl and seven brother helpers attempt to escape from a monstrous bear, the Black Hills rise up as a barrier between them and their pursuer. The Bear’s Lodge is formed when the girl and her seven helpers pray to the rock to rise up and save them from the bear. From the top of the towering rock, the people rise up to the sky to dwell there as the stars of the Big Dipper or Pleiades.”(Sundstrom, pg9)
There are a few versions of the story too. “One version, collected both historically and recently, refers to two boys, who are set upon by a great bear and run to the rock for refuge. The butte is formed as the rock rises up carrying the boys to safety. In another version, collected in 1933, the youngest of seven brothers goes to rescue his sister in-law from the leader of a den of monster bears. All eight escape by praying to a rock that rises to become Bear Lodge Butte”(SUNDSTROM, pg9). This is also seen as an earth center and a place where the Great Spirit scattered animals for them to hunt.
I think it is just really interesting that Devils Tower was able to spark stories in peoples hearts like it did and probably still does. I also think it’s great that this is already protected and everything in the eyes of the government at least.
THE SACRED BLACK HILLS: AN ETHNOHISTORICAL REVIEW
Author(s): LINEA SUNDSTROM