Called “Paha Sapa” the Black Hills are home to many tribes, consisting primarily of the Lakota and Dakota nations. However, nearly two dozen other Native American Tribes claim the Black Hills as ancestral and sacred.
The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota Sioux, the original occupants of the area when white settlers arrived.
Early-Modern human activity. The Arikara arrived by AD 1500, followed by the Cheyenne, Crow, Kiowa and Arapaho. The Lakota (also known as Sioux) arrived from Minnesota in the 18th century and drove out the other tribes, who moved west. They claimed the land, which they called Ȟe Sápa (Black Mountains).
After decades of interest, the U.S. Department of Interior now holds over a billion Black Hills settlement dollars in trust.
Built on sacred Native American land and sculpted by a man with ties to the Ku Klux Klan, Mount Rushmore National Memorial was fraught with controversy even before it was completed 79 years ago on October 31, 1941.
During the late 1700s to early 1800s, the Lakota came to control the lands in the Black Hills and on the northern plains by the eviction of the Cheyenne and the Crow tribes; areas that would later become western South Dakota, eastern Montana, northern Wyoming and northern Nebraska.
The story behind Mt. Rushmore. The Six Grandfathers (Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe) was named by Lakota medicine man Nicolas Black Elk after a vision. “The vision was of the six sacred directions: west, east, north, south, above, and below.
In the 1950s and 1960s, local Lakota Sioux elder Benjamin Black Elk (son of medicine man Black Elk, who had been present at the Battle of the Little Bighorn) was known as the “Fifth Face of Mount Rushmore”, posing for photographs with thousands of tourists daily in his native attire.
Today, the Sioux maintain many separate tribal governments scattered across several reservations, communities, and reserves in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Montana in the United States; and Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan, and Alberta in Canada.
The refusal of the money pivots on a feud that dates back to the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, signed by Sioux tribes and Gen. William T. Sherman, that guaranteed the tribes “undisturbed use and occupation” of a swath of land that included the Black Hills, a resource-rich region of western South Dakota.
The words Lakota and Dakota, however, are translated to mean “friend” or “ally” and is what they called themselves. Many Lakota people today prefer to be called Lakota instead of Sioux, as Sioux was a disrespectful name given to them by their enemies. There are seven bands of the Lakota tribe.
The name “Black Hills” comes from the Lakota words Paha Sapa, which mean “hills that are black.” Seen from a distance, these pine-covered hills, rising several thousand feet above the surrounding prairie, appear black.
Crazy Horse, Sioux name Ta-sunko-witko, (born 1842?, near present-day Rapid City, South Dakota, U.S.—died September 5, 1877, Fort Robinson, Nebraska), a chief of the Oglala band of Lakota (Teton or Western Sioux) who was an able tactician and a determined warrior in the Sioux resistance to European Americans’ invasion