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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bear Butte

There are two things I've been wanting to do every summer for the last few years.

The first is camping. Hasn't happened yet.

The second is hiking up Bear Butte. We did that today.

A little history on Bear Butte, as told by Wikipedia.

(I could have summarized for you, but I'm not in the mood. So skim when you have time.)

Geographic History:

Bear Butte is not strictly a butte (created primarily by erosion of sedimentary strata), but a laccolith: an intrusive body of igneous rock, uplifting the earlier sedimentary layers, which have since largely eroded away. This is the result of the forcible entry (or intrusion) of magma into cooler crustal rock in the Black Hills area during the Eocene period.

Modern History:

The Cheyenne and Lakota people have maintained a spiritual interest in Bear Butte from their earliest recorded history.

Notable visitors like Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull made pilgrimages to the site. In 1857, a council of many Indian nations gathered at Bear Butte to discuss the growing presence of white settlers in the Black Hills.

Violating a treaty of 1868, George Armstrong Custer led an expedition to the Black Hills region in 1874, and according to custom he camped near Bear Butte. Custer verified the rumors of gold in the Black Hills, and Bear Butte then served as an easily identifiable landmark for the rush of invading prospectors and settlers into the region. Indian reaction to the illegal movements of whites into the area was intense and hostile. Ultimately the government reneged on its treaty obligations regarding the Black Hills and instead embarked on a program to confine all northern Plains tribes to reservations.

Ezra Bovee homesteaded on the southern slopes of the mountain, and by the time of World War II, he and his family were the legal owners of the site. In the spring of 1945, the Northern Cheyenne received permission from Bovee to hold a ceremony at Bear Butte to pray for the end of World War II. The Cheyenne found that the Bovee family welcomed their interest in the mountain, and over the years the Bovees continued to encourage native religious ceremonies.

By the mid-1950s Ezra Bovee was attempting to stir up interest in making Bear Butte a national park. After his death, his family continued the effort. When federal interest in the project waned, the state government in Pierre took action, and Bear Butte became a state park in 1961 and was registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

Frank Fools Crow, the Lakota ceremonial chief (d. 1989), made pilgrimages to Bear Butte throughout his lifetime. Fools Crow taught racial harmony not just between whites and Indians, but among all the peoples of the world. He believed the Lakota should never sell the Black Hills. A bust and plaque in front of the education center at Bear Butte State Park honor Fools Crow’s efforts.

In 2011, the National Trust for Historic Preservation included Bear Butte on its list of the 11 Most Endangered Places.

So it's not just some random hill we decided to climb. OK. History lesson is over.

Now for the pictures.

The Crew

A Picture of the White Rocks at the Base of our Trail.

The Crew Looking at Some Prayer Cloths Left by Others.
There are also prayer ties left by worshippers. They are filled with tobacco.

Just Showing You How Steep the Grade was on our Trail.
I want you to be impressed.

Here is a view of the White Rocks from about half way up.

My Indian Princess, Giving Me Heart Palpitations.

The view of the White Rocks from our Ending Point.
We didn't make it to the top. Can you imagine what these would look like from there?

A tree with many Prayer Cloths.

The View from Here.

Another View from Here.

My Littlest Girl.
It looks like she could fall off the edge of the cliff at any moment.
But she was really very safe.

My Indian Princess Found a Heart Rock.
The rock that makes up the Butte is very fractured.

There were signs posted of all the animals we might see.
Snakes, birds, marmots, raccoon, etc.
This is what we actually saw. As we left the park.
Along with a sign that said something like,
"The Buffalo are wild. Please do not get out of the car."
Which I snorted at.
Until My Littlest Girl asked if we could get out and pet them.

Thank you to Debbie and Lowell for sharing your time and knowledge with us today. We could have done it without you, but it wouldn't have been near as fun.

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