Devils Tower, Wyoming

by Jeremy Bassetti

I write you from Devils Tower or, as the Lakota call it, Bear Lodge (Mato Tipila). The butte erupts violently from the earth, which is an apt way to describe it as the rock is essentially the solidified magma of a volcano-like laccolith, whose outer cone has eroded away over millions of years. In addition to geological violence, the site is rooted in mythological violence: according to several Native American legends, some children were chased by a bear onto a hill, where the Great Spirit answered their prayers for safety. The Great Spirit sent the hill into the air as the bear clawed at it thus creating those vertical striations. Bear Lodge is found in the western-most edge of the Black Hills, a land sacred to Native Americans. Prayer flags and bundles are tied to trees all around the butte, signifying its continuing relevance for the descendants of the First Nations.

– Devils Tower, 2 June 2022

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