Mount Rushmore in the South West of South Dakota is known as America’s Shrine of Democracy. The sixty foot high faces of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt have been carved out of the granite rock face. Nearby the Lakota Indians are carving a memorial ten times bigger, in honour of their most famous leader – Crazy Horse.
Bear Butte, is the site of the holy mountain where the Sioux Native Americans gather to pray. Here, they perform humblatias or vision quests. A vision quest is something that an individual would do at the first of their life and subsequently through the rest of their lives as well to gain knowledge from the spirits. They would fast for four days and the fasting itself would induce a vision. Through that vision, the Sioux would discover his destiny; whether he would be a medicine man, a war leader, or a shamen.
To dream of thunder would point to the Sioux being a medicine man, like the famous leader Crazy Horse. The Sioux who experience vision quests would lead extraordinary and important lives, following the path of a hayoka, which is a contrary to the normal way. He would bathe in dirt, dry in water, sleep naked during the cold winter, in the summer you slept with three or four robes on. And this was a show of your dedication to the faith.
Visitors to Bear Butte leave cloths on the trees as a way of showing homage to the Mountain’s spirits, and in particular tataotopa for directions. These mountain spirits you will always want present, like the Holy Ghost. The cloth is a trade for the guidance and advice of the spirits.
Visitors must have respect for the spirtual sanctity of the mountain, it is like the Sioux equivalent of the Vatican.
Devil’s Tower rises 1200 feet above the plains. It’s a sacred site to Native Americans who named it Bear Lodge after the rock formations which they believed were scratches left by a giant grizzly. The Sioux described it as “the heart of everything that is”, and it remains a site of strong religious importance to the 23 Native American tribes of the Black Hills.