Threatened Sacred Sites and Burial Grounds
(excluding the Black Hills)
1. Buffalo Gap National Grasslands and French Creek Massacre site. A few weeks before the Wounded Knee Massacred in 1890, more than 50 young men and women from the Pine Ridge Reservation, on a hunting trip, were massacred at the mouth of French Creek as it enters the Cheyenne River. The Buffalo Gap National Grasslands needs Wilderness Protection, and the French Creek Massacre Site needs cultural protection possibly through the Native American Graves Protection Act, or the Archaeological Resource Protection Act.
2. Dewey-Burdock area north of Edgemont, SD contains 169 Abandoned Uranium Mines, and also is an ancient Burial Grounds. Azarga Uranium Company plans on mining in this area despite the knowledge of the Burial Grounds. This area needs cultural protection under the Native American Graves Protection Act.
3. Thunder Basin , west of Newcastle, Wyoming, and the Black Hills contains the Black Thunder Coal Mine, the largest open pit coal mine in the U.S.A. This is also the birthplace of the thunders and is a sacred site to many Indigenous nations. Cultural site protection is greatly needed.
4. Tipi Mahto (aka Devil’s Tower) is surrounded by Uranium Mines, some old with plans for new ones. Strata Energy plans an ISL Uranium Mining operation at Oshoto, about 11 miles west, and a Rare Earth (radioactive) mine is planned to the south east of Tipi Mahto on another smaller, sacred mountain called Bull Hill. There needs to be a cultural protection area around Tipi Mahto for at least 50 miles in all directions to stop the radioactive pollution.
5. Paha Mahto (Bear Butte) currently has Nakota Energy horizontal drilling for oil a few miles from this sacred place. Again, cultural protection designation needs to be around Paha Mahto for at least 5 miles.
6. Dear Medicine Rock near Lame Deer, MT, contains numerous spirit writings very sacred to the Cheyenne and Sioux people. Sitting Bull’s vision is also found on this sacred site. Coal mining to the north and east is located a few miles from this sacred place. The Carbon, Nitrogen, and Sulfur oxides come down as acid rain or snow on this sacred place and will destroy this sacred place. The site needs cultural protection designation.
7. The Cave Hills and Slim Buttes areas located in the northwest corner of South Dakota contain 103 Abandoned Uranium Mines and numerous oil wells. Innumerable burial and vision quest sites as well as spirit writing were destroyed in the mining process. However, some sites still exist although surrounded by radioactivity. These sites still need cultural protection.
8. Cotteau Mines and Power Plant near Beulah, ND, advertises as the largest lignite mine in deliveries. However, the Battle of Killdeer Mountain occurred near there on July 28-29, 1864 between Gen. Alfred Sully and the Isantee and Tituwan Oceti Sakowin (Sioux). More than 1,400 graves and 2 stone turtle effigies are also located in one of the surface strip mining area. Again cultural and graves protection needs to be given to this area.
There are many more cultural and burial sites in the 1868 Treaty Territory that need to be protected. This is a starting point for anyone wishing to work on protecting one of these places.
Information was gathered by Defenders of the Black Hills, PO Box 2003, Rapid City, SD 57709.