The end of the Badland’s dramatic views was not as much of a disappointment as it could have been if we didn’t have the Black Hills ahead of us. This mountainous area spreads across 8,000 square miles along the Wyoming/South Dakota border.
It was here where we started seeing the state’s historical connection to Native American culture and the Old West. I vividly remembered walks in the Adirondacks with my grandfather and his tales of the Mohawk Indians. He once planted an old arrowhead in the woods during a hike so I would think we had discovered a 100 year old original.
He sometimes added Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and Red Cloud to his fabricated “American Indian” stories, even though they had nothing to do with the Mohawks. I had an eerie nights sleep when I stayed in a friend’s Idaho guest cottage in the summer of 2000, which housed the original Sitting Bull’s jacket.
As we passed through the small South Dakota towns, we reveled at the original remains, photos and stories of the charismatic chief Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, who apparently fled to Canada in the 1870s. Once gold was discovered, the Sioux Indians were pushed north and later into reservations.
I have always been intrigued by the American Indian and his life, his fate…..and yet what American child can tell you anything in detail about his history? Or empathize where he sits today?