The Home of the Bison - Resources and Their Protection - Minerals
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3. Minerals, Fossils, and Soils: The Southeastern Hills is famous for its rich flint quarries, and WCNP is associated with a number of sites that give evidence of the extraction of chalcedony and other minerals Much of this quarrying activity took place in prehistoric times, and there is little evidence of any active mining during the historic period. A limited degree of mineral extraction probably took place here for religious purposes, and some local stones were no doubt quarried to make axeheads, hammers, and grinders. Certain minerals and clays used in religious practice are still secured in the Black Hills, and some, like gypsum, are found on park properties. Certainly requests might be made for certain stones. As is the case with plants, it may be difficult to determine whether the park is used to secure any minerals, and if it is, where the mineral extraction takes place (pp. 297, 397, 428, 432-433, 645, 939-944). Fossilized bone, horn, and teeth also have cultural importance in Cheyenne and Lakota traditions (pp. 302, 375). Finally, soils brought up to the earth's surface by badgers, prairie dogs, and voles, especially at locations linked to bison, have considerable cultural significance. These soils are believed to hold the purifying properties of the deep earth, and they are closely associated with ideas of regeneration and renewal, especially to the emergence of corn, bison, and people from the underworld. Lakotas and Cheyennes view prairie dogs as cultivators, animals whose actions set the stage for the growth of plants humans and bison depend upon (pp. 299, 432, 592, 645). In the past, Lakotas have requested some of these soils, and they will likely do so in the near and distant future.
Table C. Summary of Minerals and Soils at Wind CaveNational Park and Used by the Lakotas and Cheyennes
Did You Know?
Alvin McDonald was the first systematic explorer of Wind Cave. He explored the cave from 1890 until his death in 1893. More...