We have an early morning departure to watch the annual buffalo roundup at Custer State Park that occurs on the last Friday in September. (I wonder if the name irritates the native Americans. Apparently, the Battle at Little Big Horn was as shocking to that generation as Pearl Harbor and 9/11 was to future generations. Custer had ambition to be president. He had a larger following in Washington than Grant and felt he needed just one more military victory to secure the bid. I guess pride really does come before fall…and fall he did.
When a stampede or roundup occurs, we are told that one can hear them, then feel them, then see them. We did not experience that. We heard lots of hootin’ and hollerin’ and cracks of the bull whip.
Another one: “If the Buffalo’s tail goes up, he is either going to charge or discharge.” Also, if you see the whites of their eyes, RUN!!
It was quite a spectacle. There were more than 25,000 people in attendance to watch 1,500 buffalo. They will cull the herd to about 1,000.
It there is a fire, the buffalo go to the prairie dog towns where there are dirt mounds and short grass. Cows and horses often will twist an ankle in a prairie dog hole so ranchers don’t like prairie dogs and try to eradicate them. Buffaloes never trip in prairie dog towns. When a one ton buffalo dies, the park rangers hoist the carcass onto a flatbed truck and deliver it to an isolated area and allow natural processes to take over.
Here is a link for an hour of coverage: Buffalo Roundup
We took a tour at the Crazy Horse Memorial Museum.
Death Song depicts a Western Lakota warrior from a highly developed military society consisting of only twenty members. The warrior is standing beside his exhausted pony preparing to do battle, singing his “Death Song,” in preparation for his eminent death. His sash is pinned to the ground with a small wooden lance.
These “sash-wearers” would stake themselves to the ground in the face of an enemy attack to defend their fallen brethren in battle, rather than submit to their enemy. These sash-wearers were committed to remain staked into the ground until they were either killed, or another member of the society freed them. Under no circumstances could the warrior pull out the lance and retreat.
The Crazy Horse Memorial is much larger than Mt. Rushmore but it isn’t finished yet.
Native Americans kept track of time with a winter count by giving that year a name of a defining moment that everyone would know. For example, 2020 would be COVID.
Chief Standing Bear wrote a letter to Korczak Ziolkowski after he had won the sculpture award in the World’s Fair in New York in 1939. Ziolkowski had previously worked in Mount Rushmore.
Chief Henry Standing Bear wanted people to know that Native Americans have heroes too. “It must be carved here, on our sacred land. My home is where my dead are buried.”
Crazy Horse was an Oglala Lakota Warrior and a humble leader. At Little Big Horn, he was a great leader. In his hair, he wore one feather of a red-tailed hawk. The feather will be the last carved.
Crazy Horse had many different horses. Some for hunting, some for traveling and pulling, and still others for hunting and war.
The Lakota have only been dominant in this land since 1780. Prior to that date, the Cheyenne and Kiowa and Arapahoe lived here.
Korczak Ziolkowski died in 1982. His wife and children took over working on the Crazy Horse Memorial. Now only a few children are involved but they are joined by the grandchildren of Korczak Ziolkowski.
A lot of wood was used to make steam for energy so a lot of forest was cut down for fuel.
There are many photos from Custer’s mapping expedition so the forestry can use these for comparison and as then and now.
The following picture shows a healthy managed forest on the left and one who is susceptible to wildfires and Mountain Pine Beetle on the right.
Mountain Pine Beetle is native and spends its entire life under the bark except to come out to lay eggs. Ponderosa Pine cannot defend a mass attack of 500-1,000 beetles which can take out the forest. A thin forest will result in no dead trees and the wind disrupts pheromones that attract Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB).
A controlled burn starts at the top of the trees and takes place when there is no wind, high humidity, etc.