Devil's Tower and The Bear Story

Devil's Tower is the first national monument, ever. It was featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but has been famous and significant much, much, much longer than that.

For us, the movie is one of Sarah's favorites. I didn't see it till we were married. Being the first national monument, it has been visited by millions upon millions of people. It is truly striking, and is surprisingly inspirational. It stands out completely, and has an amazing natural symmetry from a distance. It was another destination worth the trip.

However, again I'm finding myself painfully unaware of the plight of indigenous people. It turn's out, "Devil's Tower" is some ignorant white guy's name for it. He said a tribe called it that. But apparently, no one called it that. The area has several different tribes, each using a different name for the mountain. Most of them revolve around Bears. Bear Lodge, seemed to be the most frequent, and that is what it should be called. It seems ridiculous to me, that an area so full of local history, is suddenly forced to be recognized by some random poorly translated name. It seems since people are so aware here, of the improper naming, that it would be simple to rename it. Apparently they have already ordered too many shirts in the last 100 years, so the last couple of thousand years of the Bear Stories just get to be ignored.

Essentially, the shape is from the claw marks, of a giant enormous bear. The actual story is far more colorful, but it looks like a mountain clawed by a bear, way more than some Devil thing. Not to mention, for them, it is a spiritual place of significance, and they tie colorful prayer fabrics on the trees and have had ceremonies here forever. The whole thing seems just ridiculous that some explorer comes here, renames everything as he "discovers" it, and suddenly that's what the world is forced to use as history. I'm calling it "Bear Lodge."

Another unsettling fact, is that the indigenous people have spoken out against climbing it. It disrupts the natural environment, as they hammer spikes and anchor's into their sacred location. It's the equivalent of someone desecrating one of our churches with graffiti. Breaking a stain glass window, or painting initials on our cross.There are so many places to climb, that it seems like a simple request. It is the least Americans can do to be tolerant of a people who have been here long before us. Instead, they allow climbing, have created various trails to climb and routes. They do institute a voluntary ban on climbing during June, when the local tribes perform their ceremonies, but as evidenced today...people still climb it during the ban! I was surprised at how upset I was. Those idiots waving from the top, couldn't be bothered to pick a climb date that was respectful of the indigenous people. I think they should shoot them down off the ropes with ceremonial arrows. Sorry, we told you it wasn't safe to climb in June...should have listened and shown a little more respect.

When I cooled off, I went back to appreciating the area's beauty. It truly was a magnificent area, the mountain, the deer, and the prairie dog fields. I'd come back again...but I might bring a bow and some arrows.