Black Elk Peak

Wikipedia – Public Domain

Hundreds of Native Americans gathered at Black Elk Peak for the annual “Welcome Back the Thunders” ceremony. It’s the first time the spring celebration has been held at the sacred site since it was renamed in honor of the Lakota leader.

The Lakota have gathered at Black Elk Peak for generations to celebrate the return of spring. Russell Eagle Bear is the Historic Preservation Officer for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He says the “Welcome Back the Thunders” ceremony acknowledges the rains that nurture the growth of life.

Ceremony Marks Black Elk Peak Renaming

Sep 12, 2016
Photo by Jim Kent

More than 80 people gathered in the Black Hills over the weekend for a ceremony acknowledging the renaming of Harney Peak.

As the late-morning sun slowly starts to warm the chilled mountain air Natives and non-Natives form a circle at the base of Black Elk Peak.

“My reason for being here today is that I’m a seventh generation descendant of William Selby Harney…who this mountain used to be named after…but is no longer.” 

Paul Stover Soderman’s comments are greeted by cheers, applause and “lilis”.

Representative Shawn Bordeaux joins Dakota Midday to discuss the the naming of Black Elk Peak, and how we can get beyond conversations about race and on to conversations about making lives better in South Dakota.

Lee Schoenbeck was a representative in the state legislature during the 2015-16 session. He joins Dakota Midday to discuss the contentious conversations surrounding the naming of Black Elk Peak.

In August, 2016, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted to change the name of South Dakota's highest peak from Harney to Black Elk. The conversation about Harney peak, however, began long before.

Black Hills State University

Scholar Donovin Sprague joins Dakota Midday to discuss the life and legacy of Black Elk. From his spiritual guidance, his insight into the times in which he lived, and his vision and message for generations to come, Black Elk continues to guide and inspire.

Seth Tupper (Rapid City Journal enterprise reporter) and Dana Ferguson (Sioux Falls Argus Leader watchdog state government and political reporter) join Dakota Midday host Lori Walsh to discuss the politics of Black Elk Peak, the competitiveness of statehouse elections, and more.

www.army.mil

Dr. Ricardo Herrera, a professor at the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth and a scholar of the Indian wars and the Army of that time, discusses the history and character of William S. Harney. As Harney Peak gives way to Black Elk Peak we'll learn about both men this week on Dakota Midday from scholars who have studied them.

Victoria Wicks

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names has reportedly voted to change the name of Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak.

Governor Dennis Daugaard has issued a brief new release saying that he is surprised by the decision, since he heard very little about support in South Dakota for the change.

The South Dakota Board on Geographic Names conducted public hearings last summer and collected written comments. The state board initially recommended a name change but later rescinded that recommendation.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

Harney Peak in the Black Hills will keep its current name at least through the summer, as activists work to reach consensus on a new name. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names stalled at its April meeting and now has continued the matter to August. If area tribes can agree to Black Elk Peak as the new name, the board is inclined to make the change.