It's not that Black Elk Peak has been renamed for a Lakota holy man that irks earth haters like John Thune, Denny Daugaard and Pat Powers it's that the mountain has been named after a Lakota holy man who rebuked the Roman Church.
No doubt frequent contributor to Pat's Pissoir, Troy Jones, is perfectly happy if the names Stalingrad and Rhodesia were still in practical use.
The story of Black Elk is fraught with historical myth making as historians and academics have questioned the accuracy of John Neihardt’s account in his book “Black Elk Speaks”. Indeed the book is not only a poor historical text but it is also a disputable biography. Neihardt is not only guilty of constructing a “noble savage” caricature of Black Elk and North American Indians but also of engaging in exaggerations and alterations to the translations of his notes to make the story more palatable to white and European markets. The book is as much about Neihardt as it about Black Elk and it should be read in the same context as a novel would be. [comment, Jon Lauck, South Dakota Republican Party]Heȟáka Sápa (Black Elk) returned to Lakota ways after he realized the Roman Church was committing crimes against his people.
Damian Costello's monograph on Black Elk, the Oglala holy man, is the latest in a growing number of scholarly contributions to the controversial topic of Black Elk's religious identity. Was Black Elk truly a wicasta wakan, a holy man, who only became a Catholic convert as a result of the colonial pressures endemic to the reservation system? Or was Black Elk actually a devout catechist, whose "Great Vision" was unnecessarily bereft of its Christian message because John G. Neihardt desired a romanticized and non-Christian Indian narrative? First, tribal nations such as the Lakota are still under the yoke of colonialism and, as such, are engaged in a process of decolonization rather than postcolonialism. Second, taking [Lamin] Sanneh's perspective and arbitrarily applying it to early twentieth-century Lakota history only serves as a way of making excuses for historic wrongs that both Protestant and Catholic churches committed against the Lakota people. [excerpt, Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism (review)]Revisionist history turned the Wounded Knee Massacre into a battle where soldiers were awarded medals of honor then a peak or town in the Black Hills and a national forest were named after a murderer like George Armstrong Custer. Crook City near Whitewood and Crook's Tower, one of the 7000 footers in the Black Hills, were named after a war criminal.
This blogger has been arguing for Lakota names on South Dakota's geological features for at least twenty years. It is the opinion of this blog now that the mountain is named for Black Elk it should be in the Lakota language: loosely translated as Paha Heȟáka Sápa.
Get Custer's name off a South Dakota state park, a mountain, a county and a town? What a great idea! Harney County, Oregon is where white supremacists seized a federal wildlife refuge.
Senator Lisa Murkowski and the US Park Service are doing what Alaskans are asking of Congress urging the body to approve a name change for North America's highest peak.
The Athabascan name, meaning “the high one,” has been a bone of contention between Alaska’s congressional delegation and Ohio’s, which has sought to preserve the current name honoring assassinated U.S. president William McKinley. “At home in Alaska, we just call it Denali because it’s part of our history,” Murkowski said, according to the statement. “Officially changing the name from Mount McKinley to Mount Denali will show the long-standing significance that the name Denali holds for Alaskans.” [KTUU teevee]In the early days of South Dakota statehood Indian agents embezzled federal funds meant for tribal nations, just like James McLaughlin did.
Little has changed.
Habitat destruction, watershed ruination, native species extirpation, rampant ecocide, statewide corruption: this is today's South Dakota.
On September 22, 2015, the Pennington County Democratic Party passed a resolution calling for the renaming of Harney Peak, the highest mountain [*] in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The resolution states that public comments received by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names included support of the name change by a descendent of General William S. Harney and a descendent of Little Thunder, a leader of a Lakota village destroyed by Harney in 1855. The resolution further states that the existing name of the peak is highly offensive to Native people. [press release]* Odakota Mountain is the highest natural peak in the Black Hills.
Of course, the South Dakota Democratic Party should urge President Obama to dissolve the Black Hills National Forest, move management of the land from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior; and, in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Forestry and Wildfire Management, rename it Okawita Paha National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move.
It's time for the State of South Dakota to abandon Bear Butte State Park that it claimed through colonization and remand it to the tribes for governance so they can restore its name to Mato Paha and for the US Park Service to add the name Mahto Tipila to Devils Tower National Monument.
After leading the charge on Black Elk Peak Basil Braveheart has turned his sights on Battle Mountain in Fall River County.