What are barriers to American Indians’ religious freedom within the geographic location of the Black Hills from Bear Butte to Bear Lodge? In spite of being powerful places to do ceremonies such as a Hanbleceya (Vision Quest), those ceremonies have been disrespected and disrupted with ignorance and racial hatred. More recently, there is the Sacred Hoop 500 Mile Run from Bear Butte to Bear Lodge, where people in automobiles have been projecting their malice towards American Indians who are running “like a prayer” (“from Bear Butte and we go all around the Black Hills and we end at Bear Butte.”) First, respect has not been displayed to those who Cry for a Vision at Bear Butte. In fact, it’s been downright disrespectful and disruptive.
Native communities are more concerned than ever that increased noise, pollution, traffic and crowds will bring the disruption to intolerable levels: Just a few miles away from the teems of partying bikers, hundreds will seek solitude and meditation through an intense period of prayer, known as the “Vision Quest.” As part of South Dakota’s Black Hills – a legendary expanse that natives say was illegally taken from them over a century ago – Bear Butte has traditionally belonged to the Plains Indians, who know the site as Mato Paha in Lakota and Nowahwus in Cheyenne. It has been recognized as a worship ground by dozens of native peoples across North America, according to indigenous-rights activists.
Just a few miles away from the teems of partying bikers, hundreds will seek solitude and meditation through an intense period of prayer, known as the “Vision Quest.”
And why have “Native communities are (been) more concerned than ever that increased noise, pollution, traffic and crowds” at Bear Butte?
Disturbingly, this is where the story begins with the Sacred Hoop 500 Mile Run “from Bear Butte and we go all around the Black Hills and we end at Bear Butte.”
“So we start from Bear Butte and we go all around the Black Hills and we end at Bear Butte,” said Black Crow.
The tradition began 35 years ago and it’s called the Sacred Hoop 500 Mile Run. About 50 youth runners make a loop through the Black Hills and Devils Tower is their last stop.
“It’s like a prayer, because during the day they run all day,” said Black Crow.
Moving on, “Devil’s Tower,” the general location that is believed to be where the White Buffalo Calf Woman brought the Calf Pipe to the Lakota and Sweet Medicine was given the Four Arrows for the Cheyenne, is really named Bear Lodge.
A stone monolith looms over the plains of northeastern Wyoming, its summit standing 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. People have been drawn here since ancient times, and the rock has many names. Mato Tipila. Bear Lodge. Grey Horn Butte. Aloft-on-a-Rock. Ghost Mountain.
Most, however, know it as Devils Tower.
However, white settlers had to assert domination, influence, or authority over another, especially by one political group over a society or by one nation over others as with everything else they did, and gave arguably one of the most sacred sites to those two tribes a satanic connotation .
It was also an act of deceit. Who’d ever imagine the Calf Pipe and the Four Arrows were given to the Lakota and the Cheyenne at some place called “Devil’s Tower?” It seems to me, that Republicans and the Dominant Culture appealing to their own willful ignorance as a false appeal to their own mistaken authority is a sad standard, not to mention appalling in light of what they apply their god-complex-politics to. Here’s a polite reminder about the Treaty of Fort Laramie.
ARTICLE 5. The aforesaid Indian nations do hereby recognize and acknowledge the following tracts of country, included within the metes and boundaries hereinafter designated, as their respective territories, viz;
The territory of the Sioux or Dahcotah Nation, commencing the mouth of the White Earth River, on the Missouri River; thence in a southwesterly direction to the forks of the Platte River; thence up the north fork of the Platte River to a point known as the Red Buts, or where the road leaves the river; thence along the range of mountains known as the Black Hills, to the head-waters of Heart River; thence down Heart River to its mouth; and thence down the Missouri River to the place of beginning.
Therefore, it should be clear the towers are indeed for “one person, or one group of people, or one month, or one day, or one week.”
“The towers not for one person, or one group of people, or one month, or one day, or one week,” said Sanders. “It’s for all of us.”
So too, the notion that there’s “enough in the sand in the sand box for everyone” stops with the racial hatred directed at the children like “‘Red man, go home,’ or, ‘red skins, go home.’”
Along the mile and a half loop trail that circles the tower, prayer flags and offerings are visible, but the ceremonies that incorporate these objects are intentionally less visible.
Part of the reason they’re held in private may be tied to harassment. Waylon Black Crow Senior said not very many vehicles that pass by the runners on their journey cheer them on.
“They go by and throw trash at them,” said Black Crow. “They go by, and go ‘oh, oh, oh.’ Or they tell us to go home. ‘Red man, go home,’ or, ‘red skins, go home.’ And those are things that hurt. The kids come back crying. We tell them, “send it through one ear, and go out the other.” Remember who you are. Remember God made you special. The Creator made you special.”
See? All that happens at “Devil’s Tower” and not Bear Lodge, and barriers to American Indians’ religious freedom from Bear Butte to Bear Lodge? Answering, when seen in proper historical context of a country that committed genocide against the First Nations, perhaps it’s easier to see name changes and interference in ceremonies are acts and measures undertaken to destroy any nations’ or ethnic groups’ culture: cultural genocide. Given the rise of white supremacy and Neo-Nazis after the election, this truth can stop being denied.
At the end of 1920s, Turkey began the process of changing the names of certain locations in Western Armenia. Presently 90% of the Armenian cities, towns and buildings in Eastern Turkey Western Armenia (Eastern Anatolia) have been Turkified. Armenian geographical sites’ names have also been replaced with Turkish names. Devising a systemanic method of destruction, hundreds of architectural monuments have been destroyed and all Armenian inscriptions erased.
– See more at: http://www.genocide-museum.am/eng/cultural_genocide.php#sthash.dCmaEjl1.dpuf
Wrapping this up, I had the occasion to be in the presence of this man in the video below from time to time when he was alive. Although we weren’t close, we weren’t strangers. He teaches how (about 14:30) in 1880 all Native American ceremonies were outlawed and how “they enforced that very effectively.” Allow me to explain how. If a tribal member was found to have prayed with the Chanupa (pipe), or done a Vision Quest (Hanbleceya), Inipi (sweat lodge), or anything else, then the “Christians” buried that tribal member outside the grave yard and told their family members their deceased relative was burning in hell. Simultaneously, the “Christians” taught how terrible hell is in the Indian Boarding Schools, and “that’s gonna put a lot of fear in you” he taught.
Thus, if “the climbers (at “Devil’s Tower”) wanted the opportunity to show that their community could self-regulate,” they should know the history and perform a lot more “self-regulation.”
John (Fire) Lame Deer And Richard Erdoes. “Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions.” p.96.
There’s a little Custer in all those sightseers, souvenir hunters, rock hounds, tourist scalpers, sharps and Deadwood hookers which cover these hills (Black Hills) like so many ants.
And as for the people in vehicles driving by the runners who throw trash and “tell us to go home. ‘Red man, go home,’ or, ‘red skins, go home …’”
Albert (see video below) would say pray for them. Peace.
“We continue to believe that someone important someplace cares and will do something before our situation becomes impossible.” Fools Crow from “Fools Crow,” by Thomas E. Mails. p. 217