Harney Peak

Chynna Lockett

In The Moment ... August 2, 2018 Show 392 Hour 1

The Journey Museum & Learning Center hosts its next Learning Forum today at 4 p.m. Mountain by welcoming author Brad Saum.

He will be sharing some insight on his newest book, "Black Elk Peak: A History," where he unveils unique and untold stories linked to the highest point in South Dakota. 

Brad Saum joined In The Moment with a preview of the event. 

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.


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 changed the name of Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak.

Governor Dennis Daugaard and U.S. Senator John Thune have each issued a brief news release expressing dismay at the decision.

But activists who have worked on the name change for more than a year are gratified to see results.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks is covering this story and has more on this latest decision.

For coverage on first round of statewide hearings, click on the link below:

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.

Dakota Digest May 13, 2016

May 13, 2016

On this week's edition of Dakota Digest, Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders visted South Dakota. Also, this week marked the one year anniversary of the Delmont tornado, destroying most of the tiny town. SDPB's Gary Ellenbolt attended a ceremony on Monday to remember the First Lady of the University of South Dakota, Colette Abbott .

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. 

Photo by Victoria Wicks

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names has not yet made a decision on changing the name of Harney Peak in the Black Hills. The board discussed the topic at its April meeting, held last week, but failed to come to a consensus.

Executive director Lou Yost says the board will probably take up the issue again at its June 9 or July 14 meeting.

Dakota Digest for March 25, 2016

Mar 25, 2016

On this week's edition of Dakota Digest, more information surfaces regarding the GEAR UP program. Also, there's now a news website available in the Lakota Language, and SDPB's Victoria Wicks took a trip up Harney Peak with "indigenous people."

Victoria Wicks

Every spring, at the time of the Vernal Equinox, indigenous people gather at Harney Peak to welcome back the Thunder Beings. It's a ceremony that has ancient roots, held at a peak that has an ancient name.

Last year saw a push to change the name of the peak. Proponents of change, including a relative of William S. Harney, say the general's name shouldn't be on a site sacred to tribes, because he led a brutal attack on an encampment at Blue Water Creek in Nebraska, killing women and children.

Bill Keeps Geographic Name Board, But Limits Scope

Jan 24, 2016

Lawmakers are considering a bill that removes some power from the State Board of Geographic Names.  

The board was formed in order to change racist or offensive names of South Dakota landmarks.  In 2014 the board was instructed to remove all references to the word “squaw” which is seen as both derogatory and racist.

But when the board began looking at a possible name change for Harney Peak – some lawmakers say it went too far.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

Two descendants of two enemy leaders have joined together to advocate changing the name of Harney Peak.

Karen Little Thunder is a descendant of Brulé Chief Little Thunder, who was injured at Blue Water Creek in 1855. Eighty-six men, women and children died in that massacre led by U.S. Army General William S. Harney.

Paul Stover Soderman is a seventh-generation descendant of General Harney.

The two traveled to Washington, D.C., in September to testify before a hearing of the federal Board on Geographic Names.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

If public opinion follows public comments at a Rapid City hearing Wednesday evening, the name of Harney Peak is going to change. The South Dakota Board on Geographic Names heard arguments for and against renaming the peak, and one of the strongest opinions came from one of General William S. Harney’s relatives.

Attorney General Calls Out Black Elk Development

Apr 27, 2015

The South Dakota Attorney General says a group working to change the name of Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak is not currently a legitimate charity.

The South Dakota Board of Geographical Names is the official state entity that deals with any calls to change a name of a known location.
But leaders of the group Black Elk Development say it is a legitimate charity that is trying to build consensus within tribes for a new name for Harney Peak.

Tower Restoration On State's Tallest Point

Oct 1, 2014

South Dakota is celebrating 125 years of statehood. SDPB honors that milestone with stories that explore the state’s identity and heritage through unique ideas, people and places.

Harney Peak sits at the core of the Black Hills uplift and has likely been the highest point in the hills for millions of years.   For Lakota the peak is a sacred place.   White settlers named it for William S. General Harney.  The lookout tower on top of Harney Peak was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939.  

Brad Saum / Harney Peak Info

The Harney Peak Lookout Tower at the highest point in the Black Hills is getting a facelift. This tower was built in 1938 as a lookout region to spot Wildfires. This restoration seeks to preserve the lookout tower for years to come.

Volunteers Sought For Long Climb And Manual Labor

Jul 31, 2013

The Forest Service is looking for volunteers who want to climb the regions tallest peak and then undertake some hard labor.

A plan is underway to do maintenance on the lookout tower at the top of Harney Peak--and the Forest Service is looking for volunteers to help with the project.

The peak is in the middle of a wilderness area, no motorized travel is allowed, so all tools and building materials must be carried in by pack mules.