Devils Tower History

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Since it became a national monument in 1906, Americans and people all over the world have been able to enjoy the tremendous views, climbing opportunities, and cultural heritage of Devils Tower. The land has a rich cultural heritage, being used both by the Lakota tribe and as a stepping stone to westward expansion in the United States. The most widely accepted historical accounts show the Lakota tribe reaching the Black Hills around 1775 (Kurkiala, 447). Devils Tower quickly became a sacred site for the Lakota, and is frequently used in religious ceremonies in the month of June. A century later, Devils Tower was one of the areas of land allocated to the United States in the passage of the Dawes Act in 1877 (National Congress of American Indians…show more content…
The rules regarding climbing equipment ensure that Devils Tower is able to maintain its natural beauty by eliminating climbing tools that break into the rock and by disguising climbers from people who are observing Devils Tower at a distance. Additionally, trail closures and rehabilitations ensure that the land will not degrade over time from overuse and pollution, but will be preserved by NPS. Finally, the request to not climb in June is consistent with NPS policy on religious ceremonies and services in parks. When there are ceremonies for other religions in a national park, NPS does not close the area but instead asks that visitors refrain from using it out of respect for the ceremony (Cross; Brenneman 26). These protections serve everybody who accesses Devils Tower by ensuring that the park is sustainable for future use. Additionally, they protect the cultural heritage of the land by preventing park users from disturbing Lakota ceremonies unintentionally through damage to the land and by notifying park users of actions that would be considered disrespectful to the Lakota. Devils Tower is a public park, and the management plan in place now respects both Lakota and public…show more content…
The assertion that the land should still belong to the Lakota because the United States violated the Fort Laramie treaty by acquiring the land without Lakota approval has been undermined however by the United States Supreme Court. In the case United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians (1980) the 8-1 ruling was that the United States’ “sole legal shortcoming was the failure to pay just compensation” for the land (Pommersheim 116). Although the land was seized using moral justifications that ranged from questionable to outright egregious, the Lakota were just as expansionist when they arrived on the land less than 100 years before (Kurkiala 449). The United States continued to honor the law however, and proposed paying $17.5 million to the Lakota as compensation for the land. The court later revised this number to $122.5 million by compounding a 5% interest annually (Churchill 135) but the Lakota response to this was that they were no more willing to take the new offer than the old one. The Lakota even coined the phrase “The Black Hills are not for sale” to demonstrate that they are not interested in a monetary sum but rather the land itself. This is disingenuous however because while the Lakota base their claim to the land in the idea that it was illegally seized, they cherry pick
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