Black Hills

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The Black Hills are a small mountain range located in western South Dakota and parts of northeastern Wyoming. They are not a part of the Rocky Mountain range and are surrounded by prairie. They include some of the highest peaks in North America east of the Rockies such as Harney Peak which towers at 7,244 feet. They got their name from the Lakota phrase “Pahá Sápa” which means “Hills that are Black.” The Black Hills are densely covered in trees and, from a distance, appear to be black.

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Originally, the Black Hills were inhabited by the Arikara tribe. The Crow, Pawnee, and the Kiowa, which originated from Montana, moved in and settled in the Black Hills area. During the early 1700s, the Cheyenne tribe moved in from Minnesota and pushed the Kiowa, along with the other tribes, south towards Oklahoma. Finally in 1776, the Lakota, or Sioux, tribe moved in from the Great Lakes area and pushed the Cheyenne Indians west into Wyoming and Montana. Earlier in 1730, the Cheyenne had introduced the Lakota to horse culture while they were still in the Minnesota/Great Lakes region. This helped the Lakota to become a numerous and strong nation that the Cheyenne could not compete.

The Lakota tribe considers the Black Hills to be sacred and the literal center of the earth. It is also the place of the First Gathering of the Stone ceremonies for the Lakota Sundance. According to the Lakota, the Inyan Kara Mountain is where the Great Spirit dwells and where many Indians go and pray in thanksgiving. It is also believed that the Inyan Kara was the starting line for The Big Race between the birds (two-legged, representing humans) and animals (four-legged). The Race Track was the red stone and clay that surrounds the Black Hills. The birds won the race and established the natural order of humans killing buffalo and other game for food. The natural, geothermal water near Hot Springs, SD is sacred and is thought to have healing powers. Many great Lakota Indians have had their vision quests in the Black Hills.

In 1743, the first European explorers, François and Louis de La Vérendrye, saw the Black Hills but did not travel to them. Jedediah Smith was the first European to explore the Black Hills in 1823. Many early setters commonly mistook the Laramie Range, which was further west into Wyoming. The Black Hills themselves were greatly unknown to the early American government and were included in Indian Country in the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty and the Treaty of 1868. This treaty provided that no whites were to enter Indian lands without the Indians’ consent. Rumors of gold in the Black Hills began to circulate in the early 1870s and in 1874 General George Custer led an expedition to the Black Hills. That same year, Custer found gold in French Creek and this started the 1875-1878 gold rush. The towns of Deadwood, Lead and Central City became large population centers and the most densely populated part of the Dakota Territory. Roads and railroads were constructed to gain access to the otherwise remote mining areas. From 1880, the gold mines yielded $4 million while the silver mines brought in $3 million on an annual basis.

The Lakota saw the western expansion of the Americans as a violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty and waged war on the United States. This resulted in the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877 which included the Battle of the Little Bighorn. After the US defeated the Lakota in 1877, the Lakota were forced into the agreement of 1877 which revoked the Treaty of 1868 and required them to sell the Black Hills to the US government.


In 1980, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills were illegally taken and that the treaties associated with the land fell under the Just Compensation clause of Article 5 in the Constitution. The Lakota nation was awarded $175 million in an interest-bearing account that still has not been accepted. The total amount to be claimed is now over $750 million.

The Black Hills are now home to such monuments as Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. The gold mining industry is declining and tourism is one of the main parts of the regional economy. Rapid City is the largest city in the area with a metro population of over 120,000.

Webliography


"Black Hills Gold Rush." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hills_Gold_Rush>. Information on the Black Hills gold rush.

"Black Hills Land Claim." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hills_Land_Claim>. Details on the land despute between the Sioux Nation and The United States.

"Black Hills National Forest - Environment | GORP.com." Outdoor Travel Guides & Adventure Travel Information | GORP.com. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-black-hills-national-forest-rapid-city-sidwcmdev_066660.html>. Geographical information on the Black Hills.

"Black Hills, Paha Sapa." Welcome to Hanksville. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.hanksville.org/daniel/lakota/BlackHills.html>. History of the Lakota and the Black Hills.

"Black Hills." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hills>. Overall information about the Black Hills.

"Cheyenne People." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheyenne>. Overall information on the Cheyenne tribe.

"Crazy Horse Memorial | Custer | Black Hills | South Dakota." Black Hills of South Dakota | Family Vacations on the Great American Road Trip Starts Here! Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/home/thingstodo/parksmonuments/crazyhorse>. Information on the Crazy Horse National Monument.

"Forest Service." US Forest Service - Caring for the Land and Serving People. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPyhQoY6BdkOyoCAGixyPg!/?ss=110203>. American Indian history of the Black Hills.

"Forest Service." US Forest Service - Caring for the Land and Serving People. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPwhQoY6IeDdGCqCPOBqwDLG-AAjgb6fh75uan6BdnZaY6OiooA1tkqlQ!!/dl3/d3/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS9ZQnZ3LzZfMjAwMDAwMDBBODBPSEhWTjBNMDAwMDAwMDA!/?ss=110203>. Information on the Black Hills National Forest.

"Great Sioux War of 1876." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Sioux_War_of_1876-77>. Details on the Great Sioux War of 1876.

"History of the Black Hills of South Dakota." U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.nps.gov/archive/wica/History_of_the_Black_Hills.htm>. History of the Black Hills region.

"Inyan Kara Mountain." Wikimapia - Let's Describe the Whole World! Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://wikimapia.org/11398696/Inyan-Kara-Mountain>. Information on the Inyan Kara Mountain.

"Lakota People." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakota_people>. Overall information of the Lakota people.

"Lakota Sioux & Oglala Tribe - ALLBlackHills.com." ALL Black Hills: Mount Rushmore, Sturgis & Deadwood - ALLBlackHills.com. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.allblackhills.com/history_museums/lakota_sioux.php>. Information on the Lakota people and the Black Hills.

"Map of Black Hills." Lonely Planet Travel Guides and Travel Information. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/maps/north-america/usa/black-hills/>. Map of the Black Hills.

Portal, Black Hills. "Black Hills Vacation Adventure - Black Hills South Dakota News & Video Travel & Tourism on Black Hills Today." Black Hills South Dakota Business Directory & Community Portal on Black Hills Today. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.blackhillsportal.com/npps/story.cfm?id=2459>. Picture of the Black Hills.

"Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868)." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Fort_Laramie_(1868)>. Details on the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868.

"United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Sioux_Nation_of_Indians>. Details on the Supreme Court case between the Sioux Nation and The United States.

Welcome to the Black Hills Mining Museum. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.mining-museum.blackhills.com/history.html>. History of mining in the Black Hills.

Young, Steve. "The Black Hills." DLN, Dakota-Lakota-Nakota Human Rights Advocacy Coalition. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.dlncoalition.org/dln_issues/black_hills.htm>. Dakota-Lakota-Nakota Human Rights Advocacy Coalition.